A New Beginning: A New Hope
This past summer I moved from Lexington, Kentucky (college basketball Rome) to Seattle, Washington. I had been hoping against hope that the Sacramento Kings would be moved to Seattle for the refounding of the Supersonics so that I could be reunited with Boogie Cousins and Patrick Patterson on the same team, hoping this time to follow a more effective blueprint toward becoming a true fan. I was wanted to 1) get swept up in the wave of jubilation sure to follow after Seattle was finally reunited with pro basketball. I knew it would be much easier to become a fan of a team if I could see games in person and feel like they were a part of the same community I was a part of, like what happened for me in Lexington with the Cats. And 2) I hoped to use 2 of my favorite Kentucky Wildcat players to help bridge the gap for me. Boogie Cousins is a misunderstood Saint of a manchild and there is nothing I would have loved more than bringing him home to me in Seattle. But this was not to be…
Does this look like the face of a lockeroom cancer to you? I thought not.
However, the memory of last year’s playoffs was too good for me to give up on my dreams of adopting a new NBA team for this upcoming season. SO if not the Sacremento/Seattle Kings, then who could I justifiably throw my lot in with? I knew I wanted to have Kentucky connections to a team so I had a few options. I could stick with the Kings if I loved Boogie so much, but that team reminded me too much of my Charlotte days with the ineptitude inherent in the franchise for me to follow through. I could turn toward the rising star that is the Washington Wizards and John Wall, but the presence of Emeka Okafor on that team feels like splitting up with your wife, only to have her become a low end stripper at a disreputable gentlemen’s club, only to patronize said establishment on a weekly basis and try awkwardly to avoid eye contact… so they’re out.
“Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact, don’t make… DAMMIT EMEKA!!!!”
Jodie Meeks, a beloved and beleaguered Cat from the Gillispie Era was on the Lakers, but by this point I couldn’t stomach being a Laker fan. And the Hornets seemed too trendy a pick for me to go back to The Brow. (I’m a Lions fan you see. Gotta have me some loveable losers) I certainly wasn’t going to follow MKG back to Charlotte with Michael Jordan now heading the ship. Phoenix seemed promising with Archie Goodwin (one of my favorite Cats and a player who won’t be remembered nearly as fondly as he should be by UK fans because of the atrocious season that was his UK career) and Eric Bledsoe on board, and so did the Sixers with their new league darling GM and the acquisition of Nerlens Noel and a potential 2 lottery picks to add to that next season. But both teams seemed just too distant from me to make any connection with them. I had no reason to root for them other than these Kentucky players. So I gradually came toward the decision that I needed to make perhaps the most egregious flip flop of my sports fan career.
I decided I needed to adopt the Detroit Pistons. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I could unite my Detroit fandom across all 4 major sports, jump on board with my dad and make it a familial endeavor, and bring my attempts to love the NBA back to their 2004 roots, albeit on the opposite side that I started on. The entirety of that 2004 team at been swept away, especially Larry Brown, removing any remaining hostility I may have had, and so the time seemed right. If I couldn’t have a Seattle Boogie Cousins, I would adopt Detroit.
(Just thought I should include the fact that after his time with the Pistons, Old Man Brown ended up with Charlotte. Yet another reason for me to have jumped ship.)
Moreover, there were a lot of positive reasons to pick Detroit. They were a team that was rebuilding (so I felt I could hop on the bandwagon closer to the ground floor without truly being a bandwagon jumper as they were not on course for a playoff bid) But they were rebuilding around some great young talent (so I could hope for the future and grow with a young team, watch them develop and get excited for their future prospects.) And most importantly, they had my second favorite player from my favorite Kentucky team of all time: Brandon Knight!
(The Pistons may have permanently screwed him up flipping him between 2 guard and the point, but Brandon Knight is as clutch as it gets, forcing Kentucky into the final four through sheer testicular fortitude. PS That shot goes in if you were wondering. DOWN GOES THE BALROG)
I was choosing a franchise with real NBA history (much like my UK Wildcats) a team which had requisite UK ties (in Knight) and a core of potential future all stars in Knight, Greg Monroe, and most importantly Andre Drummond. They wouldn’t be a playoff team right away so I could grow with them and feel like I had invested before the big pay off of a playoff push. Everything seemed right. SO I started reading the great guys over at Piston Powered every day and began my new life as a Pistons fan.
And then, very quickly, everything began to change. For one thing, the Pistons shockingly signed Josh Smith, a questionable move but one which is assuredly exciting and can’t really be argued with if the Pistons become a playoff team. They brought in Luigi Datome which really excited me. Who doesn’t want a Luigi on their team? ( I can see it now… “More of the European guy! Give me the European guy! Yeahhh jack up a 3 Luigi!”) But more distressingly for my purposes,.. my Kentucky connection was jettisoned.
Now, this move arguably improved the Pistons in the present (even if that meant mortgaging a small portion of their future) and as I was already beginning to identify with my new team I was OK with this but I was definitely sad to lose my UK connection on the team. And then… the Basketball gods once again delivered mana from Heaven for me, this time in the form of Josh “Jorts” Harrellson!!!!!
Slayer of Balrogs and bringer of justice! Josh Harrellson is possibly my favorite Kentucky Wildcat of all time.
Be happy Pistons fans. This is what success looks like.
I mentioned Knight was my 2nd favorite player on that 2010 UK team (my favorite team in any sport of all time). Well the only player I liked better than him on that team was Jorts! I was ecstatic! Moreover, while it doesn’t sound like Pistons wise guys think he’ll pay I think he has a place on this team! This Pistons team desperately needs shooting because of the abundance of talent inside after the Smith signing and that Jorts can do in flying colors!!! (just as the Louisville Cardinals). With Drummond, Monroe, and Smith clogging up the floor, having someone like Jorts who can mix up the lineup as a possible stretch-3 who can knock down shots would be infinitely helpful and I for one think (hope) Jorts will be able to outperform Singler, Datome, and Jerebko (although I do love me some Swedes) in that role. I couldn’t be more excited for Jorts’ future in Detroit! I just pray it lasts more than one year… or at least one year… please don’t cut Jorts Joe Dumars… I’ll be devastated!!!
Watch out you Basshunter-lookin studmuffin… Jorts is here for your minutes
SO while its been a rollercoster summer with my newly adopted Pistons, I’m already falling in love with them and can’t wait to head into my first season with the team. I love all the Jalen Rose hommerism coming from Grantland.com. I love Jorts. I love the fact that noone knows if this team will be good or terrible next year. I love the looming Greg Monroe trade options and the looming potential Rondo acquisition talk. I can’t wait to see if Tony Mitchell can be the stellar pro he looked like he’d be during his first year in college. (and subsequently whether he can be another massive upswing product like Drummond in Detroit) I ABSOLUTELY love Andre Drummond (now that he’s not at UConn) and the Jennette McCurdy love story that has been going on this summer. Whether they’re really any good or not remains to be seen, but the Pistons will certainly be exciting this year on and off the court. These guys are young, exciting, endearing, and as far as I’m concerned this is the group I need to make my NBA fandom stick, and I can’t wait to get started.