Well folks, we've got two in the books, two to go for the Mt.Rushmore of Detroit sports teams series. This week, I'll go with the Pistons of the NBA, and give you my four most influential members of the Pistons organization from Ft.Wayne all the way up to Detroit. So, without any further adieu;
Giant head #1- Isiah Thomas
Before he was a fat girl harassing joke of an NBA coach and executive, Zeke was one hell of a basketball player, leading the Detroit Pistons to two championships in 1988-89 and 1989-90. Those Pistons teams also provided the final obstacle for Michael Jordan's Bulls, who eventually would break through and own a pair of three-peats. Over his Hall of Fame playing career, Thomas averaged 19 points, 9 assists and nearly two steals per game. He was so in the head of Michael Jordan that it is refuted that Jordan threatened to quit the Dream Team if Thomas was included. He was the unquestionable leader of the Bad Boys, and one of the most feared defenders in the game during his era.
Giant head #2- Joe Dumars
Dumars has been a major part of each of the Pistons three world championships; as a player during the Bad Boy era and as the GM for the 2004 championship team. He averaged 16 points and 4.5 assists per game over his career, and was well known as a defensive stopper against the likes of Jordan, Wilkins, and even Magic Johnson during the golden age of the NBA from the mid 80's to the late 90's. Dumars was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2006.
Giant head #3- Dave Bing
Bing may have played during a bad era of Pistons basketball, but there is no question he is one of the greatest players ever to don the red, white and blue Piston uni. Averaged 22 points per game over his Pistons career. Inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1990, Bing went on to own a successful business or two after his NBA career. Oh yeah, and he's the current Mayor of the city of Detroit! Dave Bing... keeping it low key.
Giant head #4- Bob Lanier
"Big Bob" Lanier was the #1 overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft by the Pistons. Over his nine seasons as a Piston, he showed fans exactly why he was the top overall pick averaging a Pistons franchise best 22.7 points per game and ten rebounds per game over his career here. Lanier was a 1992 Hall of Fame inductee.
Aside from these four, there are others that deserve mention. First and foremost, owner Bill Davidson who over 30 years as Pistons owner was one of the most innovative and generous owners in professional sports. Other Bad Boys era Pistons that deserve mention; of course coach Chuck Daily, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, as well as Rodman and Vinnie Johnson. From the 2004 NBA Champs, Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, and Rip Hamilton deserve mention. Grant Hill brought an NBA buzz to Detroit during his six years here, and was a big part of the 2004 title because his trade to Orlando brought Ben Wallace to Detroit. Other guys from less bountiful eras that deserve mention include Dave DeBusschere (better known as a Knick), a native Detroiter who played six years of his Hall of Fame career here, and George Yardley, the first player in NBA history to record a 2,000 point season.
Before I wrap things up this week, I'd like to say Happy Father's Day to all the proud papas here at YouGabSports. From reading what you all post here and being friends with some of you on facebook and other forms of social media, I know how great of parents you all are. Hope it's a great day for you all.
There's my monument for the week folks. Thanks as always for reading, and be sure to list the greatest players in the history of your favorite NBA franchise on your way out. Have a great weekend, Gabbers.
This is the Father's Day post I did a couple of times in the past:
It is updated and reposted again...I miss you Dad!
"On this Father's Day, I wanted to take a blog post and remember a couple father/father figures and mention some other dad type related passing thoughts.
My dad has been gone for more than seven years now. He was a husband, dad to three kids, a police officer, a ham radio enthusiast, loved computers, yodeling music, tinkering, building things, buying cookbooks and so many other things too numerous to mention here. He took me to my first rock concert despite the fact that he didn't like rock music at all. He took me to my first Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics games, and he didn't care for sports all that much.
Along with my mother, he was in the stands rooting me on when the teams I coached won championships, and he told many people how proud he was of my coaching work. He grew up without much of a stable home life, but gave my mom, my siblings and me that which he never had.
When he was in the hospital the final time, a man he arrested came to visit him and thanked him for helping him straighten out. Cops from all over the region came to his wake and the place he grew up as a child allowed his final wish to have his ashes spread on the grounds.
He was proud of me for my coaching...I'm proud to be the son of George Roberts.
My basketball father has been gone for 8 years now. When I was a kid, Tony Dias was the only one who ever encouraged me when I would tell any of the coaches in the basketball league that I wanted to be a coach when I grew up. But 25 years later, not only did I coach but I spent time in charge of the program as well. And I got to coach with him as a fellow assistant and with him by my side, working as my assistant. And while my hard work plays a part in that, I lay the credit at his feet. I would not have gotten to where I did in basketball today without his encouragement.
I attended his wake and funeral which is something I never do if I can avoid it. At the funeral, his son Tony Jr. gave the eulogy and it was well done. I had written a piece that got printed in the local paper. When the family got a copy of it, they said it was better than the one his son gave.
Sadly, Tony Jr. just died this week at the age of 62.
It's funny. I've never felt the particular need to become a dad myself, but the girl who played 8 seasons for me somehow managed to become my basketball daughter. When she told me she was moving out of town after the winter season one year, I was worried that she'd be missing out on the basketball league. But she told me that she'd still be signing up for the summer league and I was thankfully able to get her back on the team. And I was happy when she told me that she was moving back to town before the start of the next winter season.
I can never explain why, but for some reason that girl and I connected from the first practice we had together. Her mom said that her daughter really respects me. I told her part of that is because I will never and have never lied to her. For me, in basketball terms, she's my "daughter". I raised her to become the player she was. And she wanted to coach with me after she was done playing. I can't think of a better compliment.
She's 16 now. While she has stopped playing sports, she just got her permit and has a job at the local grocery store. She even got invited to the senior prom as a sophomore where she looked beautiful in her gown. Just yesterday I was in her line. She was talking to the customer in front of me and I thought she had said that I was still coaching in the youth league. I responded that I was now an ex-coach. But as it turned out she had said that I was her youth league coach. When I said "ex-coach", she replied with "I don't consider you my ex-coach."
So to my Dad, I send my love and I miss you every day.
To Tony, I miss you and thank you for what you did for me.
And to that player, despite how my own personal run with the youth league ended, you made coaching you worth every second.
Happy Father's Day to all Dads both biological and by example."
Happy Father's Day Weekend to all of you Dad's out there. I hope everyone has a special day tomorrow with your families...for many of us, hours spent with Dad often meant something to do with sports. Probably all of us Dad's spent some time doing what we see here...teaching a son or daughter to hit & throw. If not that, then to shoot a hoop and play some sort of defense or maybe play "horse" or a lively game of one-on-one on a driveway hoop. A lot of Dad's put in the extra hours as a youth coach of a baseball, basketball or soccer team. If you haven't done it yet, you should give it a go. Yes, you have to put up with pain in the ass parents who think their kid is going to be the next LeBron James, but when you look back on it, that's not what you remember. You remember being there as your son or daughter made a play that they will never forget. A lot of Dad's spend many hours watching youth baseball games...I kept score for my son's games up through Legion ball. That was a lot of hours watching often tedious games go on forever...and I wouldn't give up one minute of it. I coached basketball for my sons and daughter...watched lacrosse (no expertise there), did a couple of years of baseball as a coach before I decided I was better suited for the scorebook. Now, I am trying to get them on the golf course - actually my daughter and son-in-law are taking me out next weekend - because it is still one game I can beat them at!
In my view, Dad's and sports are forever linked. We teach them how to play, get them to the game on time and then teach them who to root for. (My brother-in-law who is Redskin Fan #1 has failed at this - his daughter has embraced the Ravens...nothing wrong with picking a winner!). Now I can commiserate with my oldest son after another Caps flame out and we can debate the merits of RGIII playing too soon. It's a tie that binds. So we celebrate Dad's this weekend and we celebrate their connection to Sport. So thanks Dad for taking the time to play catch, watch my games, take me to the ball park and the Redskins games and for buying Caps season tickets in 1974 (we were in the seats for Game 1, and we are still suffering...and no, you are not the reason that they lose. No single fan can jinx a franchise!). Thanks for playing catch with my kids, too...they will never forget the wiffle ball home runs over the fence or better yet over the house.
Happy Father's Day to All!
Other sports news of the week....
U.S. Open has Phil Mickelson at the top of the leaderboard after 2 days at Merion.
First things first...what is the deal with the wicker basket on top of the pin? Nobody seems to know why they use them - only that they have been around for a long time. It would seem like flags would be more helpful providing wind information, etc., but there you go...something unusual to think about.
So Phil has the early lead and is one of a couple of guys at -1 after two days. The U.S. Open is really a battle of attrition. Somehow even this incredibly short course at Merion is proving to be a match for the field of long hitting pros. A bounce off the fairly and you are hitting out of 5 inch rough. If you have never played in those conditions, you have no idea what a huge penalty that is. I played two courses - Pebble Beach and Oak Hill - at tournament time and I have nothing but admiration for these guys that can actually get the ball to the green out of that grass. For most of us, we need the one club not in the bag - the foot wedge - to get back into play.
Tiger is at +3 and four shots back, which does not seem like a huge problem, but on a course like this those strokes will not come easy. My guess is that +4 will win the Open so that there is a lot of drama and players in contention starting tomorrow morning. If you made the cut, you have a shot. How about the amateur kid from Taiwan...he is even par?! That would be something! I'll root for nice - guy Phil and his beautiful family on Father's Day!
NBA Finals...for everyone who was hoping the Spurs were going to pull off the upset, I think Dwayne Wade stole that idea away with the big game 4 performance. Now we are guaranteed of games in Miami and I do not see San Antonio pulling off the big upset on South Beach.
Stanley Cup Finals...I wish I could say I could stay awake through 3 OT's the other night, but I can't. I woke up about 2 AM and had to flip to the NHL channel to get the final score. That is a great start to these final between two classic NHL franchises. Going back to the Original 6 days though, they were hardly dominant back in the day. It was all Montreal all the time, and when it wasn't the Habs, it was the Leafs. Sure the Bruins, Hawks and Red Wings popped in there and then there was the fluke Rangers win in '40, but for the most part, nostalgia about the Original 6 when it comes to Cups lies North of the Border. For this series though, it is up for grabs right now.
Happy Friday everyone! (unless you work weekends, then it’s a Monday or something for you and you hate these “Happy Friday” jerks like me and you have good reason to be grumpy). Wait, I have to work on Saturday? Anyway, there was another fun week of sports with lots of topics to touch on today. Yes, this is a Sports Spectacular, not an extravaganza anymore.: I realized I was flunking alliteration and needed to get it straightened out. OK, enough blather about nonsensical and onto the sports:
WHAT THE PUCK?:
The NHL Stanley Cup Championship Finals kicked off in style with a triple-overtime thriller in Chicago where the Blackhawks gutted out a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins. Both teams showed their grit and determination in game one Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The Bruins looked like they would continue their domination of their opponents by jumping out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads; however, unlike against Pittsburgh and New York where the imposing black and gold defense locked down the opposition, Chicago stormed back on their home ice.
The Blackhawks scored quickly to cut the deficit to 3-2 after Bruins rookie defenseman Torey Krug made a terrible pass out of his own end and right onto the stick of the Blackhawks at the blue line and Dave Bolland netted it to cut it to one. Boom. The light was lit and Chicago had a skip in their stride as they attacked Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a bombardment of shots.
They finally broke through to tie the game with Chicago’s Johnny Oduya converting on a strange bouncer, as this time the puck deflected past Rask off the skate of defenseman Andrew Ference who was defending against the attacker behind the net with his back to the shooter. Suddenly in less than 5 minutes the match was tied and soon into overtime.
The Bruins brought the energy to the first overtime, generating some great scoring chances but not getting the puck past goalie Corey Crawford who was strong in goal in the extra period. By the second overtime, the Bruins had lost their mojo and looked like a team of “Jaromir Jagr”’s, slow and plodding as the Blackhawks skated circles around them. With first line playoff star Nathan Horton (upper body injury) in the training room, the Bruins constant offensive pressure of the first overtime was gone, and they hung on as goalie Tuukka Rask tried to keep them in the game.
Chicago finally broke through after almost completing an entire extra game as Michal Rozsival’s shot was deflected twice as it worked its way past Rask and ended the marathon game one.
The Blackhawks are a strong team, with some really creative and explosive players who can move the puck and put pressure on the defense. For the Bruins, it has to take some wind out of their sails after having been on a great roll since their game seven comeback in the first round of the playoffs against Toronto. Playing over 110 minutes and still losing has to hurt, and it will be interesting to see how the Black and Gold respond to this adversity.
The Bruins had this game in the bag, as a two goal lead should be an automatic win at this juncture of the season. Much credit goes to Chicago, as the Blackhawks ramped up the pressure and goalie Corey Crawford made a number of great saves to give his team a chance to to win. I may not want to stay up to 1:00 AM every game, but if game one is a preview of the series to be, it is gonna be a heck of a ride!
BIG ROUND BALLS:
Word association time as the NBA season grinds to its end with the Heat and Spurs locked in combat for the NBA Championship:
The Heat: annoying
LeBron James: flip-flop flippity flop flop
Ray Allen: Traitor!
Tim Duncan and the Spurs: class act
and one for the Boston locals:
Doc Rivers: say it ain’t so! Baby, come home. Don’t hurt the ones you love.
Chad Johnson amazingly found the spotlight yet again outside of the gridiron. In court for a plea deal to get out of jail time for a violation of his probation after his domestic violence case involving his headline loving ex-wife (and reality television “star”). The player formerly known as Ocho-Cinco slapped his lawyer on the rear end playfully and got smacked down by the judge as she put him in jail for 30 days. So now the failure that was an overpaid wash out in New England, Ocho-stinko, is now Ocho-Clinko. The worst part of being in jail 30 days for Johnson is that if someone tosses him the soap in the shower, based on his play in New England, he’s gonna drop it.
OK, now that two years of pent-up frustration (due to overpaying and dealing with a bozo, overpaid, self-promoting wide receiver who could not get on the right page in the offense with one of the greatest quarterbacks of the modern NFL) is out, we’re focusing on keeping it classy the rest of the way with the NFL Notes:
Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow. There. That’s more than enough Tebow talk for me. The battle for the 53rd spot on the roster and right to be one of the seven inactives each Sunday has never been so thrilling.
In my opinion, Tebow is at his best a back-up quarterback who should be kept in glass with a “Break in Case of Emergency Only”. No team can afford to develop him at another position without an NFL Europe to send him out to for learning and seasoning. Also, any situation with a shaky starter in place can fracture the team. New England is a fit for him this camp, because he has no chance of starting (Tom Brady) and equally has no chance to be the number two quarterback (Ryan Mallett). After thinking about it, and the fact he has a two year contract, Tebow is likely to spend the season on the Patriots “veteran practice squad”, which is injured reserve. A tweaked hamstring or “concussion” is often enough to shut a player down for the year and another look after a season of working out, learning the playbook, and being coached up.
St Louis Rams fans have to be in a tough spot. They must wonder what in the world their management staff had to be thinking when they kept quarterback Sam Bradford and traded Washington the pick that turned out to be Robert Griffin III. Bradford is back for year three in St Louis without a lot of progression towards becoming a star, and having watched RGIII lead his team to the playoffs as a rookie and revitalize an entire franchise in just one year, panic must be setting in. This is a big year for Bradford and the Rams, as they do not want to find themselves in the position of the franchises who passed on Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft and suffer a decade plus of regret.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, spent part of this week smack talking like he was the illegitimate son of Buddy Ryan, making news by noting division rival, the Pete “pumped and jacked” Carroll led Seattle Seahawks, are currently leading the league...
in PED suspensions.
Coaches commenting on other teams is usually not something going on in the NFL, but the Harbaugh’s are part of the young, brash coaches who talk big and then back it up. There’s n problem with anyone talking trash, but backing it up is important. When the Jets beat the Patriots in the playoffs, the Patriots had no choice but to take the heat. Seattle fans may not like to hear about it, but this has the makings of a heck of a rivalry this fall. Both teams have creative coaches, fantastic young quarterbacks, strong and aggressive defenses, and loads of big play talent on offense. The teams meet in week two, and this could be a rivalry for the NFL to spotlight for years to come.
Some running backs are on the move, as former New York Giants bruiser Ahmad Bradshaw landed in Indianapolis on a one-year deal. One of the “old breed” running backs, Bradshaw chews up yards and linebackers while trying to play through the foot injuries he has had and the bumps and bruises of his pad-lowering power running style. An underrated performer in New York, some dings and bruises last year hurt his value this off-season and the Colts got a true feature back who, when able to play, will make young Andrew Luck better just by keeping linebackers close to the line of scrimmage and safeties up in the box.
The Denver Broncos decided to release feature back Willis McGahee and give the ball to 2nd round pick Montee Ball, from Wisconsin. Ball the Bruising Badger must have put on a heck of a show in OTAs as McGahee, who missed the voluntary workouts for personal reasons, never got on the field to show he was healed from last season’s knee injury that left the Broncos vulnerable in the post-season with only third-down back Ronnie Hillman and the completely useless Knowshon Moreno to try and keep defenses honest. The pressure is on Ball to step up and contribute immediately, as Denver is not going to scare any linebackers with Hillman or Moreno in the backfield.
Interesting tidbit (I found it at Mike Florio’s NBC site ProFootballTalk) about the Buffalo Bills and high price free agent defensive lineman Mario Williams. Williams mentioned to Buffalo News writer Tim Graham that Mike Pettine, the defensive coordinator in the great white north of New York, usually says “Kill ‘em or hurt ‘em”. Florio mentions it as part of the post-BountyGate NFL frowning upon these statements, but not really dishing any discipline. So the defense is trying to “kill the quarterback”? Shocking. Of course, from what I saw of Williams in his in initial season in Buffalo, he’d best concentrate on getting near the quarterback on the field, and not talking about it on the sidelines.
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OK, that’s all for now. Thanks as always for checking-in, and let’s kick-off a great weekend!