Atlanta — It would be easy to say the extra attention that comes with a team thrusting itself into playoff contention under special circumstances would change its overall outlook — and allow the bright lights of ESPN get to their heads.
But the Pistons players say that isn't the case, and their loss to the red-hot Hawks had more to do with the Hawks' performance than the stage being too big for the Pistons, playing a nationally-televised game on Martin Luther King Day.
"We getting national exposure? I didn't even know," said the usually-sarcastic Greg Monroe. "For real, we don't think about it. We understand why we're getting exposure. What we're doing isn't about national exposure but we understand it comes with it. We're trying to continue doing what we're doing."
Before their 93-82 loss to the best team in the NBA, the Pistons came in winners of 11 in 13 after releasing Josh Smith in late December.
Monroe and Andre Drummond were visitors to the NBA TV set Sunday night, filming a segment about Monroe's playmaking and Drummond's offensive rebounding prowess. NBA TV is based in Atlanta, so the network took advantage of the Pistons being in the area.
"Everybody wants to be on TV, especially if they're talking good," Monroe said. "It makes you feel good because it's something that we earn, we've earned that publicity. But not one person is caught up in it, nobody's saying this is an ESPN game. We're all talking about what it takes to beat Atlanta."
Pistons veteran Caron Butler said he's monitoring this team's psyche, and believes since this team has been on both sides of attention this year — a 5-23 start will bring that kind of negative publicity — they won't have to look far in the effort to keep their feet firmly planted.
"You get an opportunity to go out there and perform at a high level and people talking good about you — because obviously people have seen all the bad (bleep) that they can say about us — now that they good things are starting to come out, it's a fun time for us," he said.
"That's what you play the game for. A lot of these guys want to be household names and get talked about (positively). We live in a society where it's based on what's trending. Twitter, Instagram. The internet is so dominant."
Coaches, of course, are a little different and Stan Van Gundy certainly falls under that umbrella. He was sheepishly embarrassed about the "Form a (bleeping) wall!" statement that became a twitter sensation, but understands with winning comes spoils — as long as winning stays the singular focus.
"I think it's good for the franchise," said Van Gundy last week in Indianapolis, after it was announced the team's game in Milwaukee this Saturday will be televised on NBA TV. "I don't know if our team has made the transition to handling it well. They got used to being beaten on and now all the positive attention, they haven't handled it well since the seven-game winning streak."
Monday marked the beginning of NBA's "Fit Week." Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko will visit Expereincia Preparatory Academy in Detroit for a fit clinic and cooking class featuring featuring Levy Restaurants' Chef Lamar teaching healthy recipes, among other healthy living activities.
Jerebko and 50 students will participate in an hour clinic from 3:45 to 4:45 today, and several Pistons partners will be involved in the events to express the importance of a healthy lifestyle – DMC, Meijer and Avita Water will all contribute.
Pistons center Andre Drummond was warned by the NBA for a flopping violation against the Pacers on Friday night. Drummond drew an offensive foul on Pacers center Roy Hibbert on the Pacers' final possession before Drummond tipped in Brandon Jennings' miss with 0.3 seconds left.
Drummond contended publicly it wasn't a flop.