For William Clay Ford to keep trying, year after year, tribulation after tribulation, it took deep doses of an admirable trait, a trait rare in sports. Some called it loyalty, even blind loyalty, but it was deeper than that.
In a pregame ceremony, the Wings will send Nicklas Lidstrom's No. 5 to the top of Joe Louis Arena, alongside the numbers of such luminaries as Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman.
Michigan is feeling no pain right now, but isn't interested in celebrating an incomplete accomplishment. Michigan State is feeling all sorts of discomfort, and seems to have forgotten what prevails this time of year.
The Wolverines will hang another Big Ten championship banner and perhaps even more, their reward for turning into ruthless late-game closers.
You hear it often these days, and should prepare to hear it even more. Tom Izzo hears it too, and doesn't mind saying it. If healthy, the theory goes, Michigan State is the best team in the country and could win it all.
When it was time to take over, Nik Stauskas took over, and the Wolverines took what they wanted. They beat their rivals again and grabbed command of the Big Ten race, and make no mistake, this was a forceful takeover.
We can blame Joe Dumars, and we do. We can blame Tom Gores, and we do. Heck, we can blame Maurice Cheeks, Lawrence Frank and John Kuester in absentia, just for fun. But the more you watch the Pistons, the more disgusted you should get with the players — with the lack of effort and lack of pride reflected in their laughable defense.
As someone who gets a decent cardio workout taking the stairs to the basement to stack clothes on the treadmill, this was new territory. But really, how difficult could it be? Did I mention the kegs? And the silly brooms?
The Pistons (22-30) head to the All-Star break in a battle with fierce rival Charlotte — ahem — for the final playoff spot in the awful Eastern Conference. Some will debate the benefit of squeezing in as a seven or eight seed, but the Pistons aren't debating it, and they shouldn't.
When the Pistons fired Cheeks on Sunday morning, it wasn't even Dumars' call, and that tells you plenty about his precarious standing. Dumars isn't leaving today, but at the end of the season, a change seems increasingly inevitable.
The Wolverines' biggest victory Wednesday wasn't necessarily who they landed, but who didn't get away — top corner Jabrill Peppers. The best thing about Michigan's class is that it stayed intact amid the noise.
Sure, Henrik Zetterberg would like to have a break, or at least catch a break. Sometimes his back aches, sometimes his legs are weary. But he's needed in all sorts of places now, and the next time you hear him complain, it'll probably be the first.
Babcock, 50, has been the Wings coach for nine seasons. The Pistons have gone through six coaches, the Lions have gone through five and the Tigers' Jim Leyland just ended his eight-year run, all since Babcock replaced Dave Lewis in 2005.
Michigan-Michigan State basketball is not Duke-North Carolina as far as national impact. But this season, with these two teams, it's as good as it gets. Forget all the injuries and debate after the Wolverines' 80-75 victory over the Spartans Saturday night, and recognize the unfolding truth.
The Wolverines did what they do, and are doing it better and better. The Spartans tried to do what they do but ran out of bodies, and ran into a team that ...
Bob Wojnowski is a Michigan native who grew up in Ann Arbor, went to high school in Battle Creek and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1983. He has been at The Detroit News since 1989, a columnist since 1992. He has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the Olympics to the World Series to the Final Four to the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals.
- Bob can be reached at email@example.com.
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