10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 14, 2006
Welcome to the Hall, Joe Dumarsl
D earoe Dumars,
I've wanted to write you this letter for a while, and since you've
just been inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, now seems like the
Since I became a basketball fan, you've been the player I've followed and
I've tried to style my game after. I don't remember your early-playing days
with the Pistons, so it was in the twilight of your
career that I grew to admire you. You weren't at
the peak of your game, but to me, that didn't mat-
ter. You had all the intangibles.
Ironically, you played on a team nicknamed the
Bad Boys for its in-your-face attitude and physi-
cal style of play, but you never seemed to play the
entire part. Sure, you played the pressure defense
that made Michael Jordan shy away, but you never
ran your mouth. Instead, you stayed behind the
scenes, blocking David Rivers's key corner three KEVIN
when the Pistons led by three with 15 seconds left in WRIGHT
game four of the 1989 NBA Finals. Even on the The Sixth Man
offensive end, you led the team, averaging 27.3
points in the four-game sweep to secure the first of
two Bad Boy NBA titles.
And now, deservingly, you've made it to the Mecca of NBA basketball -
the Hall of Fame. Sure, your class (Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins)
put up the better numbers and made more highlight films. But you did more
for me than those two ever could have.
As an unheralded 18th pick from McNeese State in the 1985 draft, you
played the best defense Jordan ever faced, won more titles than Barkley or
Wilkins combined and stayed with the Pistons longer than anyone else (14
You played in the shadow of Piston great Isiah Thomas and the then-up-
and-coming Grant Hill. But never once did you complain. Even when the
Pistons started spiraling after Thomas and Bill Laimbeer hung up their play-
ing shoes and Rick Mahorn, Vinnie Johnson and Dennis Rodman moved on
to other teams, you stayed.
You could have flown the coop with the rest and tried to find your way
back onto a contender (see Gary Payton and Karl Malone), but you still
donned that Pistons jersey night in and night out.
I'll admit it: I wish you still played. I remember your last regular-season
game and, sadly, the first-round playoff exit. Your curtain call didn't get the
national attention that Michael Jordan playing minor league baseball did.
Did that bother you? Not the leastbit.
But then you came back in 2000, as president of basketball operations.
And, wouldn't you know it, so did the Pistons. You did away with the goofy
horse logo and the ugly colors, and brought the team back to the Bad Boy
glory days of Piston lore. The Grant Hill sign-and-trade shocked many
Detroit fans, but you knew it had to be done. The Pistons needed to reflect
the main belief of its president of basketball operations: basketball is a team
You reinforced that tenet when you dealt Jerry Stackhouse to the Wizards
for Richard Hamilton. You signed a discarded Chauncey Billups after he had
bounced around the league. You drafted Tayshaun Prince when I wanted you
to pick Frank Williams (I'll defer to you from now on). In short, you built a
superstar-less team and won with it.
In an NBA dominated by stars, you created a new model for winning.
Nobody thought the 2004 Pistons had a shot to beat the Hollywood Los
Angeles Lakers - featuring Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Payton and
Malone - but they did. A team without a star nearly swept a team with four
stars in its starting five. In a strange way, you succeeded in a facet of the
NBA where your former teammate (Thomas) failed.
Now, you probably won't take total credit for the Pistons resurgence or
like the attention you've drawn since (2003 NBA Executive of the Year).
That's just the way you've always been, confident in your abilities but humble
in your approach.
Pistons great Joe Dumars was inducted into the Hall of Fame last week.
You entered the Hall in the same fashion you played the game: in the
And that's the part about you I'll always admire.
- Wright will let Dumars slide for picking Darko Milicic
even though Dwayne Wade winning a championship ring makes
Wright cringe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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