Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Bringing in rapper Big Sean shows Pistons looking to win headlines, not games

Meet the newest headliner for the Detroit Pistons . . . Big Sean.
Meet the newest headliner for the Detroit Pistons . . . Big Sean.
Image: Getty Images

This has nothing to do with Detroit rapper Big Sean.

Instead, it’s an indictment of the Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons announced on Wednesday that Big Sean was named the team’s creative director of innovation.

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Some reacted as if the Pistons had done something special like having signed a big free agent that would turn their franchise around.

Nope.

It signaled how far the Pistons have fallen.

It tells you basketball isn’t the priority in Motown anymore.

This move reeks of what you do when you’re trying to distract the fans and media from the product on the court.

It’s a public relations stunt, an attempt to win the press conference.

Supposedly, as the story reads, it’s a dream come true for Big Sean, a lifelong Pistons fan.

Normally, that dream would have been to actually play for your hometown team and help them win a championship.

Yeah, for about two seconds, you think it’s a neat story. You get national exposure for having your team linked with a hip artist all the kids love. You get some street cred, some juice in the Hip-Hop culture.

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But when you really sit back and think about it, it reveals how low the Pistons have sunk.

Detroit isn’t some expansion franchise in a Mickey Mouse town looking to attract a fanbase by throwing confetti and t-shirts into the crowd. Or give away as much cotton candy that is humanly possible, anything to make the fans forget their team is lousy.

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This is a proud franchise that didn’t just participate in an NBA schedule. This organization won championships, and made a city — that most people around the country ridiculed and dogged every chance it got — proud.

All sports fans know the Detroit Bad Boys and the back-to-back championship they won in 1989 and 1990.

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The players were great, with stars everyone knew, including Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, and Dennis Rodman. Their coach Chuck Daly was a stud, too.

In 2004, NBA America fell in love with the new Pistons. This wasn’t the rough and tough Pistons that pushed the league around and were the villains.

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Nope. The team assembled by Dumars, a former Bad Boy, captured the true meaning of team, as a collection of hardworking misfits and castoffs beat the loaded Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Those Pistons had NO stars. The Lakers had four future Hall of Famers in their starting lineup — Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton.

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Detroit was about going to work on the court and winning. It connected with the city and its fans.

And during that run, with Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince, the Pistons sold out 259 straight games. The Palace of Auburn Hills was the place to be for five straight years.

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The Pistons made it to six straight Eastern Conference Finals, starting in 2003. That run included back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2004 and 2005.

Yes, the Pistons were that good.

But not anymore. Since the 2009-10 season, the team has been to the playoffs just twice and were swept in four games each time.

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They have a few former big-name players, in Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose.

And just like last season, the forecast this year isn’t calling for a trip to the postseason.

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Hence, of late, the Pistons — who lost their season opener Wednesday night to Minnesota — have been grabbing headlines off the court by getting their name in the paper. In April, the Pistons extended a tryout invite to Hip-Hop artist J. Cole. Sure, Cole tried out at St. John’s University in NYC. But he wasn’t an NBA prospect.

The Pistons were just looking for buzz since they were one of eight teams not in the NBA Bubble vying for a playoff spot.

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Enter LiAngelo Ball.

Recently, the Pistons invited the middle brother in the Ball family trio to training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. Again, this Ball was never considered a pro prospect. The Pistons trended on Twitter for the move. And then they got blasted by his dad, LaVar Ball, after LiAngelo was cut.

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For sure, Big Sean is talented. But that’s not the talent the Pistons need.

The Raptors didn’t win an NBA title because rapper Drake was made a featured star at their games. They won the title when they swung a trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard.

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The Pistons need players, not a playa.