Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars were guards together on the Bad Boys teams that won two NBA championships. (Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Auburn Hills – One of the mistakes Pistons president Joe Dumars made was not bringing back at least one of his Bad Boys teammates as a head coach, assistant coach, or even as a consultant.
He played with Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn. They were never “yes men,” however, and maybe that played into Dumars’ decision – maybe he didn’t want any confrontations in the Pistons front office. Maybe he wanted to surround himself with guys that would go along with the program, no matter what.
Now there is the sense that Dumars’ time with the Pistons is nearing an end. A New York Daily News report suggested that Pistons owner Tom Gores might want to have Thomas replace Dumars as the team’s key personnel decision-maker.
Let me be clear. I do not believe Gores will hire Thomas, but it is an interesting thought. Whether Gores keeps Dumars or finds a replacement, the Pistons must have people willing to challenge the top man. The only one who has challenged Dumars the past five years is Gores, who spends most of his time in California as an absentee owner who appears unaware or unconcerned about how Metro Detroit now virtually ignores this once-proud franchise.
Gores and Dumars have had differences of opinion about coaching changes, but who stepped in when Dumars wanted to draft Darko Milicic, Mateen Cleaves and Austin Daye? Who was there to say pump the breaks when he wanted to sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva?
Thomas’ name will generate a buzz around Metro Detroit. He went from Piston for life after his playing career ended to a Piston whose lifelines with the franchise disappeared.
His friendship with late Pistons owner Bill Davidson soured, and Thomas was no longer the favorite son. Davidson in turn trusted his franchise to Dumars and Tom Wilson.
Times change, owners changes, and perhaps Gores wants to reopen a chapter that never really closed. Thomas is always top of mind with many Pistons fans.
I’ve spoken to Thomas in the past about the Pistons and he knows he has many supporters and many detractors in this community. But he doesn’t want to talk about the Pistons because of his relationship with Dumars. They played together for nine seasons and won NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
Dumars was Most Valuable Player of the 1989 NBA Finals as a shooting guard and Thomas, the point guard, was named MVP of the 1990 Finals. They were the greatest guard combo in Pistons history.
It would be awkward for one to replace the other. But that is professional sports. Friends replace friends all the time.
I just hope that if Thomas takes over he does not ignore the men who bled red, white and blue for this organization. They still love the Pistons, even though they have felt jilted in the past. You mean to tell me that Lawrence Frank, Maurice Cheeks, Michael Curry and John Kuester can coach this team but Laimbeer cannot?
Gores is a star chaser, and Isiah Thomas was a star in the Motor City. Gores wants his team in the news, which is understandable. But it appears as if he still does not know what is best for the Pistons.
The Pistons lack direction. They lack a game plan and they lack an identity.
Gores looks good dancing in the half-empty Palace but does Gores really know his fans, this community and what makes things click here? I don’t think he does.