Saturday, May 07, 2005


Indiana Pacers center Jermaine O’Neal and the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace are close friends. They ate together twice during last year’s bitter Eastern Conference Finals and Wallace acted as a mentor when O'Neal cut his teeth in Portland.
Even after the biggest brawl in NBA history last November they remained phone buddies. During their last conversations they both wished for one more shot at each other on the court.
This is the series everybody wants on both sides of the Michigan-Indiana divide. The Pistons and Pacers square off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday at The Palace and the first game can't get here fast enough.
Rasheed Wallace and O’Neal hoped for it. And let’s face facts. It is what we wanted to see also.
It is the series that had to happen.
If the Pistons are truly the best in the land it is only appropriate that they take the toughest road. This season is not complete without another shot at the Pacers even with all the media baggage it brings.
The Pacers earned the right to face the Pistons by beating lifeless Boston 97-70 in Game 7 of their opening round series Saturday night. I am happy to see the Pacers win because it spares us watching Paul Pierce wear that sock around his face.
"It is only right, " O’Neal said. "It is going to be a heck of a series. Personally, this is what I want. I want to see this team and I am sure Detroit wants to see us on the basketball part. We are beyond the extracurricular activities. The best team will win a seven game series. "
The media quickly tried to paint O'Neal as the guy who wanted this more than anyone. But Reggie Miller pointed a crooked finger at reporters and correctly said: "You know you guys want us to play Detroit."
Guilty as charged.
The Pistons and Pacers say they have moved on from Nov. 19. I am not sure that is the case, but I do know the rest of us have not.
We will see the replays of the Palace brawl another 40,609 this week. We in the media will not allow you to forget even if you want to.
We will watch because we do not know if we will see another 12-car pile up. We will watch because we are not sure if the next bump will spark the next punch. We will watch because we are not sure if one clown in a crowd of thousands will cause the circus to break out.
We will watch because we don’t know what will happen or when it will happen. These are bitter rivals and when teams care so much about winning then anything can happen.
"This has been a year of trial and tribulations, " O’Neal said. "Our goals have not changed from day one. Our goal is to win a championship no matter who we have out there. "
The Pacers do not have enough to win this series. But it is worth watching because we are all on trial. The two teams are on trial because any small brush fire can cause an inferno. So players will watch their every step.
The Detroit fans are on trial because they have acted irresponsibly this season. First there was the cup thrower, then the bomb calls. And we were put on notice again when a fan hit Philadelphia Sixers guard Allen Iverson in the back of the head with a quarter.
The Palace is on trial also. Although it is one of the greatest buildings in the world, some around the country wonder if it is a lawless establishment.
Of course Detroit is always on trial. That is nothing new.
The goal here should be to play tough and competitive basketball on the court and to view it with class in the stands.
I am not confident that can happen. But lets keep our fingers crossed.
We got what we all wanted. Let's do it up right.


Blogger Kent Herriman said...

You are dead on this post Terry. I for one can't wait for this series. My friends and I can't stand Indiana and will be much more pumped about this series than a Boston-Detroit match-up. I can't help but agree that for most people watching this series will be like watching NASCAR, just waiting for something to go wrong. But at least we'll be watching basketball instead of cars going in circles.

12:34 AM

Anonymous Tony Hamera said...

I'm right with 'ya on this T-Fos.....I think it'll be a very compelling series. While I've heard other talk show hosts like P. Anthony Caputo say that Detroit fans wont be able to handle this series, I have the feeling we'll be just fine- and who's to say the Pacer fans will behave? I believe that the media will be the culprit when they constantly remind us of the brawl. This evolving story line between the Pacers and Pistons just adds to the rivalry and makes watching this series even more of a 'must see TV' event.

9:39 AM

Anonymous THE MAD SCOTSMAN said...

I would really hope that at this point people in Detroit (yes that includes the suburbs) would shout to the rooftops that Detroit is a good place with good people! Problem is, I am starting to hear more and more in this area talk bad about the city I love.
I hear people talk about waiting for the start of the Pistons/Pacers series just to see what the Palace crowd will do. That is just not the right mind set.
People remember that, they remember a major that is always dealing with issues. They remember all the bad things that happen.
I am sick and tired of Detroit area folks getting down on this country for the things said about Detroit. Open your ears, people in this area say those same things.
If we can't come together and really let people know what a great place Detroit is, then they will never change their views.
Most people that talk about Detroit don't even go downtown. When I try to get friends to head down it is like pulling teeth.


I know this was a bit of a rant, but I had to get this off my chest!



9:51 PM

Anonymous My name is Will. Dont forget it! said...

Chalk another one up for T-Fos! You hit the nail on the head this time (not like its anything new...).
I truly hope that this series goes 6 games (at least). this is a rivalry, that has potential to be the greatest. Never has there been an incident that has changed an entire sport in a few long minutes like November 19th. If both these teams continue to put quality basketball teams on the floor, this could be something that people in Detroit and Indy will look forward to, much like boston fans look forward to playing the Yanks in the ALCS. The fans of these two teams will hopefully never really like each other. And I for one welcome it with open arms. Detroit Hasn't had a real rivalry since... Gosh, I dont know when. Although it is obviously unrealistic to expect a rivalry that is maybe a decade old, can even mimick a 100 year old rivalry, I think I'll keep on dreaming.

As for the series, Detroit better win it! I dont want to imagine what A Heat- Pacers matchup would be like. BLECH! I have to pick pistons in 6. Then Detroit will... I think Ill save that for another post, one where I dont risk embarrasing myself.


11:05 PM

Anonymous Detroit Titan Fan said...

I am dreading this series against Indiana for one primary reason- the Pistons are going for a championship. Rivalries are great when you need a little something extra to get excited, but not when you're trying to repeat as World Champions. This series would be very interesting if both teams didn't have a great chance of winning it all, but that's not the case. Detroit has everything to lose, and Indiana makes their season by beating Detroit.

Nothing about this series is going to be easy- Indiana wants "revenge" and if they can't beat the Pistons, they are going to try and wear us down and beat us up physically as much as possible to ensure that we don't repeat. That doesn't help our chances of keeping our title.

What's more, when your focus is a championship and you are the superior team, distractions and intangibles add an element to the game that's unwanted. You have to take a long term view. There is nothing good about this series for Detroit's RUN- the physical play, the distractions, the media coverage- it all will wear the Pistons down. Hopefully they will overcome all of that, beat Indiana, Miami and the West. But in the end this series with Indiana is going to make all that much more difficult and unlikely.

12:39 PM


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