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

Donald Trump as the 1991 Detroit Pistons? He's not even in the same league

A classic NBA rivalry, sans handshake at the end.
A classic NBA rivalry, sans handshake at the end.
Image: (AP)

That’s the comparison being drawn now, as CNN’s Jim Acosta reported Friday on a Trump adviser noting that the end of the president’s reign could parallel the Bad Boys walking off the court and refusing to shake hands with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who that year started the first of their two three-peats.

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Trump should be so lucky as to go down in history as anything like those Pistons.

The Pistons won two NBA titles by sweeping the Lakers in 1989 and beating the Trail Blazers in five games in 1990. The aggregate scores of those Finals series were 436-409 and 535-510. Clear, decisive victories, with no need to lean on some old technicality in the NBA rules that the team with the most offensive rebounds would be declared champion — because the NBA has never had anything as ludicrous as the Electoral College.

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The Pistons won their titles fair and square. They didn’t get together with Alexander Gomelsky, the coach of the 1988 gold medal-winning USSR Olympic basketball team, and steal the Lakers’ plays. They didn’t say that if they lost the Finals to the Blazers, they might not accept the results of the series.

The Pistons didn’t put Chuck Daly’s son-in-law in charge of scouting. Joe Dumars didn’t sit in his room watching ESPN all day, then publish zines about how SportsCenter treated him very unfairly. Bill Laimbeer didn’t openly embrace white supremacy. Isiah Thomas didn’t sexually harass anyone, umm, until he did later, and Dennis Rodman was, at that time, just a guy who got a lot of rebounds and not a weird intermediary between autocrats.

The Pistons never lied to the American people about the danger of a global pandemic, never refused to act to stop a global pandemic for fear of endangering their hopes of repeating as champions, never got angry because the top infectious disease doctor in the country was more popular than they were, and never said “it is what it is” about a death toll from that pandemic that now approaches a quarter of a million Americans.

The 1991 Pistons lost, and they didn’t shake hands. But they also weren’t unprecedented in refusing to press flesh, as the Celtics had given Detroit the same form of disrespect a few years earlier. Trump lost, and tried — is trying — to stage a coup d’etat in defiance of the results.

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There are some things Trump does that have apt sports analogies.

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But Trump being like the 1991 Pistons? That’s as big of a zero as Rodman’s point total in Game 3 of those Eastern Conference finals.


The Wisconsin men’s hockey team beat Notre Dame on Friday night, which means that the Badgers are 1-0 in both men’s hockey and football, and that the Fighting Irish lost in hockey before they lost in football this year.

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Incredibly, both Wisconsin and Notre Dame are set to play football as scheduled on Saturday, at Michigan and Boston College, respectively. Lucky them, because literally one-third of the ranked teams scheduled to play — No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 12 Georgia, No. 15 Coastal Carolina, and No. 24 Auburn — had their games this week postponed or canceled.

Yes, Coastal Carolina really is ranked 15th, at 7-0, if you haven’t been paying attention to this bizarre college football season. Cincinnati is No. 7, and beat East Carolina, 55-17, on Friday night. Saturday’s slate of ranked teams in action includes No. 10 Indiana, No. 19 SMU, No. 22 Liberty, No. 23 Northwestern, and No. 25 Louisiana.

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It’s not in the top million worst things about the pandemic, but when this wave gets even worse and takes out bowl season, it’s going to deprive the world of some truly bizarre and hilarious stuff.

Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.

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