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NBA FINALS / LAKERS VS. DETROIT/ SERIES REPORT / PISTON
NOTES

No 'Bad' Thoughts From Him

June 06, 2004|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

Detroit Piston General Manager Joe Dumars can certainly tell his young team about winning a championship. He won two as a guard with the Pistons -- in 1989, in a sweep of the Lakers, and in 1990 when Detroit beat Portland in five games.

But Dumars, always the least demonstrative of the fabled "Bad Boys," has not offered any such knowledge to the players; nor does he expect to.

"It really is an overplayed kind of theory -- guys sitting around saying, 'Let me tell you about when I played.' That's just dumb," Dumars said, adding this team "wants to carve out its own niche."

"They don't want to live in the past, and I've never talked to these guys about the Bad Boys. And I don't want to. I want them to create their own identity, their own image, and enjoy this time. This is their time."

When asked about it later, Detroit center Ben Wallace agreed with Dumars. "We have to win our own way and not look back at how they pulled it off. It's kind of like raising your kids. At some time you have to let them go their own way."

Dumars still vividly recalls the feelings of his first championship final in 1988, the year Detroit lost to Los Angeles in seven games.

"A lot of butterflies," Dumars said. "It's only human nature to expect your guys to feel some butterflies in the first quarter of their first NBA Finals. But after that it becomes just a basketball game -- on the biggest stage, but just a basketball game."

*

Dumars said he wasn't surprised the Pistons made it to the Finals. But what did surprise him was how quickly Rasheed Wallace fit into the Detroit system.

Wallace, a nine-year veteran who began the season in Portland and was traded to Atlanta before being acquired by Detroit, played 22 regular-season games with Pistons and averaged 13.7 points, seven rebounds, and 2.05 blocks. The numbers have remained remarkably consistent in 18 playoff games with Detroit: 13 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.05 blocks.

"There wasn't any transition period for him," Dumars said. "He stepped in and immediately fit right in. You always think it's going to take a week or two, but it didn't. He fit in right away."

*

The Lakers have been primarily a halfcourt offensive team in the playoffs, with fastbreak opportunities few and far between.

That, in theory, would appear to benefit a defense-oriented team like Detroit because the Pistons seemingly would not have to expend the same kind of energy they would in trying to slow down an all-out running team like Sacramento or Dallas. Even Wallace said the slower style "plays into the strength of our defense."

But the Pistons also realize that doesn't guarantee them success, especially with Shaquille O'Neal as part of the Lakers' equation.

"A halfcourt game can make you work just as hard," Tayshaun Prince said, "because, for the most part, what you want to do is make them use the whole 24-second clock. So the defense is working.

"By them doing a lot of halfcourt stuff, it will help our defense get set. At the same time, they have players who can make plays. We have to make them make tough plays, not easy ones."

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