Originally written January 30, 2013 on Fox Sports Detroit:
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The last remaining member of the 2004 NBA champion Detroit Pistons is apparently gone. Reports started to surface Wednesday evening -- about an hour before the Pistons' game in Indiana -- that Tayshaun Prince is heading to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a three-team trade. The Grizzlies would also get Pistons forward Austin Daye and send their star swingman, Rudy Gay, to the Toronto Raptors. The Pistons would receive point guard Jose Calderon from the Raptors once the deal is official. Calderon is in the final year of a five-year, 45 million contract -- 10.5 million for this season -- meaning the Pistons would have more salary-cap room after the season. Prince, who turns 33 on Feb. 28 and has spent his entire NBA career with the Pistons, will forever be remembered in Pistons' lore for "the block." During the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004, Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller received the ball after a steal and was headed to the basket for what looked like an uncontested basket to tie the score in the final minute of Game 2. Prince had other plans. Coming from the other side of the court, Prince came in and managed to block Miller's layup attempt at the last second. Richard Hamilton ended up with the ball, and the Pistons ended up winning the series and eventually the title. It was a signature moment for that team and for Prince, who has grown from being the rookie who emerged in the 2003 playoffs to the seasoned veteran of the current team. Another great memory of Prince is one in which he wasn't even there. In the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Hamilton were all chosen as Eastern Conference reserves. Prince was not. So Rasheed Wallace suggested that he and his fellow Pistons write Prince's No. 22 on their shoes so he would know that he was with them in spirit. Prince, who was vacationing with his wife in the Bahamas that weekend, didn't see the game but heard about what his teammates had done and was touched by it. That's part of what made that 2004 team so special, how they had that close bond. They truly were a team on and off the court. You've heard the old joke about how some teams have 12 players and 12 different cabs when they're on the road. Those 2004 Pistons were the opposite. Every dinner on the road was a team dinner. To this day, those players remain close friends. When Billups came to town with the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this season, he, Ben Wallace and Prince all had dinner together. No doubt Prince has already heard from a few of those guys already. The current Pistons will now try to learn to be more like that close-knit 2004 squad. Meanwhile, Memphis is a nice place for Prince and Daye to land, considering the Pistons are more likely to land in the lottery than in the playoffs. The Grizzlies entered Wednesday second in the Southwest Division at 29-15, 5 12 games behind the sublime San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies are currently fourth in the Western Conference and are likely to make the playoffs. The Pistons are trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time since a first-round defeat in 2009, and it will be up to president of basketball operations Joe Dumars to spend the cap money wisely. If Dumars can parlay the money into a star player, then perhaps it will be the dawn of a new era instead of the end of an old one.
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