Matt Dery: The Keyword Is Culture
By: Matt Dery
Pistons owner Tom Gores was in the building last night. Detroit knocked off Philadelphia 109-101 at the Palace and one thing is for sure, the players have not mailed-in the month of April. The Pistons are 5-2 this month and have played better as of late. But that is not the story here. Gores spoke to the media before season’s end and he did not have a definitive answer on the futures of Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank.
“I expected better results,” he said. “I met with Joe and Lawrence yesterday and let them know that. They’re great guys that know their business, but I’m here assessing everything. My job is to move this franchise forward.”
This is not about changing the coach. This is about changing the culture. The coach will probably be let go yet again, but this goes deeper than that. The Detroit Pistons have some work to do to win back their fans and to win period. As I stated in October, I did not think this current group of players was ready to take the team to the playoffs. But again, it is a river that runs deeper than just talent and execution. There is also accountability and consequences and professionalism and trust. A plan and model that everyone from the owner on down should follow. This is how the San Antonio Spurs win. This is the “Celtic Way”. This is now how the Miami Heat win. Pat Riley has rules and the entire team, including LeBron James, follows them. The Detroit Pistons do not have the roster to compete with the Heat yet, I know that and you know that. But in Miami, there is also an organizational understanding from the very top on down with communication and problem-solving and a willingness to trust one another through the good times and the bad of an 82 game grind. This is a huge part of the NBA model for successful franchises right now. If everyone is on the same page and happy to be there and comfortable in their role, do you know how much more tolerable work is every day? On the floor, the players have to be tougher and have to learn to fight through adversity. This comes with experience and it is still a very young team, you have to keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that the Pistons have Andre Drummond and he is going to be special.
One of the lasting images for me this season will be the looks on Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye’s faces the night they were traded to Memphis back on January 30th. The two took questions from reporters in Indy following the Pistons’ game with the Pacers and both guys looked like the weight of the world was off their shoulders. It should not be that way. Players should want to escape other cities to come play here. Detroit was one of the model franchises just recently and guys couldn’t wait to land in Auburn Hills and play for a winner. Joe Dumars built those teams and Tom Gores should take that into consideration. But the bottom line is, the entire culture must change to get back to that winning feeling.