Tuesday, May 27, 2008

SI's Ian Thomsen on why the Pistons are poised to win it all

If you missed Ian Thomsen's column on SI.com from Friday, you should take a few minutes to read it. It demonstrates the incredible level of communication between not only Flip and his players, but between Flip and GM Joe Dumars.

A couple of highlights:

-- To start the year, Flip held his first team meeting where he asked each guy -- from the superstars to the 12th man -- how'd he'd help the team win an NBA title. Flip saved the list and has used it to keep everyone accountable. In Flip's words: "It was a contract that they gave not to me but to their teammates. It was about accountability.''

-- The Pistons play at a consistently high level, despite criticism that they sometimes "take nights off." According to Dumars, "You're asking these guys to go out there and play at an elite level every second of every game, and that's just not going to happen in this league. There are some nights that teams are going to have your number, and they're going to make shots and you're not, and you're going to come up short. To do what we've done, sitting here six straight years, you're not turning switches off a whole lot. And so that sometimes seems to be more of the emphasis than the six straight years we've done this, and it's like, Are you kidding me?''

-- Detroit's bench is better this year. So is its coach, Flip Saunders. Said Dumars: "We did not have enough youth and athleticism on our team, and we weren't deep enough. So I sat down with Flip and talked about how we have to cut our starters' minutes back."

And Dumars had this to say about his coach: "Flip has gotten a whole lot better here as opposed to when he first walked through the door. That's no knock on him, that's just reality.''
In Thomsen's words: It's about being a leader vs a caretaker.

What really drives the Pistons is the club's winning culture. As Dumars puts it:

"You have to get used to being in that environment where you hear, 'You guys didn't make it to the NBA Finals? What happened?' A lot of other organizations aren't used to that, and what we claim as success here is a lot different than what most people claim is success."