February 20, 2013 at 1:00 am

Terry Foster

Face it: Pistons can't lure big stars

Kobe Bryant reportedly nixed a trade to the Pistons in 2007. (Issac Baldizon/Getty Images)

Here's the tough part about running the Pistons.

This franchise is not a destination for high-profile free agents. The Pistons never have convinced a superstar to come here, and it's doubtful they ever will.

Players want to go to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and South Beach.

Kobe Bryant is a prime example. According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Bryant met with the late Jerry Buss in 2007, and requested a trade.

The Pistons were willing to ship Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Amir Johnson and a first-round pick to the Lakers for Bryant.

But Detroit is not L.A. — no glitz and glamour — and Bryant nixed the deal.

Instead of Bryant, the Pistons have signed guys like Bison Dele, Nazr Mohammed, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

Not superstars.

Pick wisely

So, how do you get the best to play for a franchise like Detroit?

Drafting them for starters. Keeping them, well, that's another subject — see LeBron James in Cleveland, and Chris Bosh in Toronto, and Shaquille O'Neal in Orlando and so on.

The Pistons?

Well, they've had some great players — that they drafted.

Dave Bing. Isiah Thomas. Dennis Rodman. Bob Lanier.

On one hand, president Joe Dumars always wanted to make a splash with a star.

That's why he tried — twice — to get Allen Iverson. But by the time he was successful, Iverson's crossover turned into a crawl-over.

Dumars also wanted James — before he landed in Miami.

"This is a first-class organization that is going to treat players and their families in a first-class manner," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "You have great facilities and have a team, coaches, players, management who care and make sure this is a positive experience."

Bryant backs out

But here's what would have been tough about landing Bryant: The pressure on Dumars to win a title would have been tremendous.

So, with Bryant out of the picture, it was time to turn to … Gordon and Villanueva.

Villanueva went through the free-agency process with Gordon, and says he loves Metro Detroit.

In fact, he'd love to give a recruiting speech to someone thinking about joining the Pistons.

"I really, really enjoy living here," Villanueva said. "Coming here from New York, the cost of living is a lot better.

"At the same time, the last four or five years have been hard on this organization. But at the end of the day this is a winning organization. The tradition here is unbelievable. Look at the championship banners. The practice facility and arena are first rate. That is why I came here."

It's good enough for Villanueva.

Not for Bryant.

terry.foster@detroitnews.com

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