Pistons rookie talking plenty of titles

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Stanley Johnson is young, talented and impatient.

He wants to win the first of multiple NBA titles this season.

Johnson got the itch for the Larry O'Brien Trophy recently after working out with Warriors and former Michigan State star Draymond Green. Green just so happened to have the championship trophy he was a part of winning while on a visit to East Lansing.

"It is not about the trophy," the Pistons rookie forward said. "It is kind of like this (plastic bottle of cranberry juice). It makes me healthy. Yes, it reminds me of something good, but deep down it reminds me of what it is going to do for my body.

"The trophy represents all the hard work they put into it, the sacrifices the team made and all the great things they did. Every time they see that trophy with their names on it, this is what it means."

But the last Pistons rookie who talked about titles on the eve of training camp was Isiah Thomas in 1981 — and it took him eight seasons to win his first.

"Why are we here? Why are we practicing?" Johnson said. "Why are we in training camp if we are not trying to win a championship? Are we practicing for second place? I will never practice for second place. Every team's goal is to win a championship, and if that is not in place, then we are not doing anything right."

And Johnson wants more than one title to boast about.

"I have to have multiple rings," he said, laughing. "As many as I can possibly get. And I want to do it in one place."

After playing one season at Arizona, Johnson made his mark during the Orlando Summer League, where he turned heads and drew praise.

Even Green said Johnson is someone his team must contend with when they play the Pistons.

Johnson has studied the game enough to know each team needs three great players. And he considers point guard Reggie Jackson and center Andre Drummond the first two pieces.

And he believes he's the third.

While his words are refreshing, patience is the key. History has shown that.

Still, he has the brashness that could provide the Pistons with a boost.

"My mentality is I want to win now," he said. "If we get to the point that we win my rookie year, then what do you tell me? Be patient for what? I am already one up. You can rewrite history every year.

"People say that Michael (Jordan) won six. But you never know when your opportunity to win a championship is going to come. You have to try to win it every year."