Monday, 4 May 2015
DETROIT PISTONS Feature-BAD BOYS FOR LIFE
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
What you gonna do? Drive through Detroit, Michigan these days and things aren't quite what they seem down 8 mile road. The town that Henry Ford built and Eminem spoke for through microphone still motors on. Even though days like Motown are a part of a yester-you, yester-me past. What's going on? Take a ride through rock city like Mark Wahlberg in the 'Trouble Man', frozen over beginnings of his hit movie 'Four Brothers' and you'll see more life in these lanes. Not burnt out bodies of cars and closed down record stores for a city that was ravaged by the recession more than most. This renaissance city still motors on with music on the car radio through the worlds automotive capital that keeps spinning. Sure like any city there may be some broken glass in car and record shop front windows, but as these warriors tap two Cola bottles together like P. Diddy you can still hear the singing. Chanting, taunting, motivating. "Baaaad booooys...coooome oooout aaaand plaaaay"!
"Bad Boys! Bad Boys! What you gonna do?! What you gonna do when they come for you"!? It doesn't seem like it, but it's a decade ago. 2004, Auburn Hills is rolling with the rock as the palace is finally a place for kings again. Driving like a gunning engine, the Pistons have motored on again back to the gold states of championship glory once again. They've done this by racing past the purple haze of the Los Angeles Lakers yet again, drawing the curtain down on Showtime like an eighties revival as they make another acquaintance reunion with Larry. O'Brien now belongs back with the red, white and blue collar hard work of the United States of America and the National Basketball Association's most underrated city and franchise of hallowed, hallmark history. The gloves are off as Gary Payton is left speechless. The 'Mailman' Karl Malone short of a delivery with his NBA Iron Man like body now encased in Captain America like ice frozen around his knee. All this Hall Of Fame and no trophy in the cabinet as another banner wraps around the Palace. A death of a dynasty is about to happen for even the leagues most devastating and dangerous dynamic duo as the diesel of Shaquille O'Neal can't fuel them past the city that literally creates cars from monster trucks to convertibles. Hey, Kobe how does their gas taste? Because this is a brick wall that even Phil Jackson's Zen couldn't maneuver around. Coach Brown has finally got his Sixer revenge as Larry becomes legend with Larry once again. Leading a new army of Iverson like competitors who have no answer. The battle mask of Richard Hamilton, engraving his opponent with an R.I.P. The long Mr, Fantastic like limbs of wingspan, width of the court, guarding Tayshaun Prince at home in his palace. The two Wallace brothers powering the paint. The afro of Big Ben chiming on the hour and the technical trade testament of 'Sheed that practically brought in a 'chip as part of his package deal blazing a trail from Portland. And of course the Most Valuable Player, Chauncey Billups. The one. Mr. Big Shot. All in all, brothers, champions...Baaaaad Boooooys!
But that was the sequel. 'Bad Boys 2'. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. A Fresh Prince and a Def Jam. In the Bay era of explosions and bullets. More exciting than cars being dropped off the back of a lorry at a Ferrari in this 'Transformer' age it was a Piston reboot like no other. Yet still the optimal prime of these Detroit horsemen belongs in the past like the Wild West. These guys where so tough they even made the East beast. Sure some sequels don't meet the sophomore slump on a 'Dark Knight' of 'Godfather' like reign, but remember nothing beats the original. What came first and therefore foremost. You can't tell where you're going if you don't know where you're coming from. Exactly that being the former Fort Wayne Pistons founded by the Zollner Corp that manufactured pistons for cars, truck and locomotives (if you don't know, now you know). A Fort that overcame the years where they moved around like the motor oil can, made up original logo. To the times where they made their center circle crest iconic in the golden era age of the B.M. (before Mike) 80's that was all about the Larry and Magic rivalry of the the storied Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers and their even more legendary classic competitiveness, until another team had their say and stay. A team that went form obscurity to outstanding stakes, with a 'Bad Boy' status before that hit movie or hit making record label that brought you the greatest from the Notorious B.I.G. to the invention of the remix. Take that, take that, take that Puff Daddy! Because its Bad Boy for life!
Sean John Combs may have been nicknamed Puffy because of the way he breathed on the basketball floor, but these cats where called 'Bad Boys' because...well, they took your breath away in a whole different way than Berlin in the eighties. Detroit was top gun in their machine age and left everyone else goosed, bringing the fans out their bleachers like ejector seats. They could out collar Boston's green Celtic work and even give the Hollywood Lakers a show in their time. For everyone from Sly Stallone to Jack Nicholson to witness from courtside to the hard work of minimum wage. Oh and when it came to the Chicago Bulls and some kid called Mike, they had their own rules for Jordan. But don't ask them about that. They'll probably have no idea what you're talking about. In a league full of talkers and trash, they let their actions do the talking as they treated their opponent like garbage on the way to the waste paper basket. And boy did these actions speak louder. Those boys beat you and beat you. Oh and if you where ever die hard and death wish crazy lucky to beat them you wouldn't expect a handshake. That's just not their swaggering off court style. That's not what a 'Public Enemy Number One' does when they 'Fight The Power', ran off the power moves of Chuck. Do believe the hype, because these guys had game in the hip-hop age. So much so I'm sure Spike would sit courtside if he wasn't born in New York. A Knick nixing maybe for the man who created Shuttlesworth in the rotten Apple. Jesus was a carpenter. The greatest most powerful men are always hidden behind the labors of trade. Like Springsteen blue jeans, you can always find 'Glory Days' worn into the boot-cut denim of the American dream. Sometimes it isn't just wished for...it's willed for. Worked for!
These Bad Boy, NBA Public Enemies where led by their own Chuck D. In the form of the late great Coach Daly. One of the greatest this game has ever seen with a marker and a dry erase in his team-talk, timeout cipher like circle huddle. A man still to this day honored with more than just a pin or banner in this social-media age of feed forgetting. But when it comes to basketball, not just Dee-troit Basketball, this man is an important part of the timeline in the NBA's Bayeux Tapestry length like long legacy of legend and history. He gave his all until his team had it all too. Just like Joe Dumars. One of the most underrated legends of team basketball history. Who following his integral part as a vital, working cog in the Pistons machine, became an under the hood mechanic for a franchise vehicle that sorely needed someone with the mechanical know how to keep pushing them forward in a changing industry. As an executive for the years, Dumars managed the Pistons like his former coach, Jerry West-ing the team to championship glory. He may not have brought in the likes of Shaq and Kobe, no, no! But instead he brought in who and what BEAT Shaq and Kobe! Take that! Now if you want to talk about real generals in this automatic army than how about the power of 'Zeke? Isiah Thomas. The Point God and one of the founding leaders of the new school who left everyone else with a sob story. From critics to opponents. From kissing Magic on the cheek at the start of games, even after the announcement (to show exactly what the world needed at that time, a simple and moral message of beautiful meaning), to kissing him goodbye afterwards as he left with a championship. Singing into his champagne bottle that this felt like heaven.
Playground playmaking until the hardwood felt like a heaven sent hoop dream, Thomas was the tank engine that motored this city from the highways of hell to the road of glory. Still there was plenty more in the tank if he was cooked, complete with the Chick Hearn fork. Then all you needed to do was heat up Vinnie Johnson off the bench, as 'The Microwave' went nuclear, gone in 60 seconds. Becoming one of the greatest 'Sixth Men' any starting five has ever seen. But if you want to talk about fist fives and famous ones than how about as great a frontcourt force from this truck team that any paint work has seen? Bill Laimbeer may have always looked like someones dad, but he'd bust your ass like you brought his daughter home a half hour after curfew when he told you; "no later then ten". Who gives a damn if it was prom night? Then there was Rick Mahorn, James Edwards and Mark Aguirre...beasts of basketball. Brutal but brilliant. A real B.I.G. three. On the outside the Pistons may have looked like Isiah...generally speaking, but below the hood you saw the real workings behind how well this team ran. Just like the other legends who made their banner names and rafter celebrations here. Guys like scoring power, prowess player Adrian Dantley who was the Grant Hill era, before the Grant Hill era replaced the Bad Boy one in the late nineties. John 'The Spider' Salley. A personality who's comedy united the locker room and a player who's off the bench stand-up play divided the opposition. A Bad Boy player and 'Bad Boys' actor. Just one of the 'Best Damn' people this league has seen...ever! Then of course before the Bull horns and nightly scalp color change that came out of a shook up can, came Dennis Rodman. A guy that wormed himself into this team and into the paint until he grabbed every rebound his other teammates didn't. Before the wild Spurs, Madonna, Michael and the Hollywood homicide of the Lakers, Rodman showed just how crazy he really was in Motown. Crazy amazing! Just like the rest of these blue and whites. Teal, burgundy, gold and black could never replace that. No matter how great Grant Hill was. Then after the sequel and then that brawl, this franchise and city looked for answers in the receding times. From Allen Iverson to Ben Gordon and Charlie V. And let's not forget about Josh Smith. Still it feels like now this team has found its face again for a city that needs a leader like the example of the 'Motor City' show of solidarity jerseys. Let's just hope this new core of Brandon Jennings, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Jodie Meeks off the assembly line is a catalyst that will convert towards the future. But hey, at least Tayshaun Prince is back in the Palace for his Billups like farewell tour of the road ahead. These kids still rock like their '30 For 30' documentary. No matter how good or ugly the times get they'll always be our Bad Boys. Now are you ready for the trilogy? Because they're back! What you gonna do? They're coming for you!