On This Day: In 2015, former Detroit Pistons head coach Flip Saunders passes away

On October 25, 2015, former Detroit Pistons head coach Flip Saunders passed away at the age of 60. He coached 3 seasons in Detroit and led the Pistons to a regular season record of 176 – 70, a winning percentage of .716. Embed from Getty Images From the 2005-2006 season through the 2007-2008 season, Saunders led the … Read more

Which Detroit team will win a title next?

The last time the city of Detroit had a chance to bring home a title was in 2012 when the Detroit Tigers made it to the World Series but were ultimately swept by the San Francisco Giants. The last time the Motor City was given the title of ‘Title Town’ was in 2008 when the Detroit Red Wings hoisted Lord … Read more

Looking Back: Ben Wallace and the Pistons Lock Down Western Conference All-Stars

When the Atlanta Hawks suited up four players for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game last season, it marked just the third time in nine years an NBA team had accomplished such a feat.

One of the last squads to make it happen? That’d be your 2006 Detroit Pistons, who took it upon themselves to re-introduce the idea of defense to an exhibition game typically front-loaded with uncontested dunk.

By the mid-point of the 2005-2006 campaign, the Pistons were off to a blazing openly act under Flip Saunders, in his first year at the helm in Detroit. Hitting the All-Star Break with a 42-9 record (including a 37-5 start), Detroit’s personnel seemed primed to finally earn some hefty recognition, particularly after their NBA championship run in 2004 and a return to the Finals in 2005.

The Pistons’ sustained excellence paid off as four players — Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton — got the nod to join an Eastern Conference All-Star team coached by Saunders. All but one of the Pistons’ starters were accounted for, though they yearned for their missing brethren.

“I wish Tayshaun (Prince) would be there,” Hamilton said. “If that would have happened, that would have been incredible because it hasn’t happened before. But it will be incredible to be there with those guys and if Flip plays us all at the same time that will be even more exciting.”

Pistons All-Star
Flip Saunders greets his troops.

Come All-Star Sunday, true to form, all four Pistons representatives checked in as a collective unit. With Saunders using Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce as a Tayshaun Prince substitute, the Pistons began to gain their wits about them late in the third quarter, leaving a very distinctive imprint on a game typically personified by lackadaisical defense and wild open floor dunks.

In familiar fashion, four-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace set the tone by twice blocking the shot of Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol, inducing a 24-second violation — a rarity in All-Star competition.

After Chauncey Billups tied the contest with a three-point play early in the fourth quarter, the Pistons n’ Pierce combo embarked on an extended stretch of, well, Pistons basketball. Successful defensive rotations, frantic closeouts on shooters and sustained effort led to numerous turnovers and near 24-second shot clock violations (again, this is an All-Star game) that led to a fertile stream of transition Pistons layups and jumpers.

By the time the Pistons’ All-Star run was all said and done, the East had re-gained a lead they’d never again relinquish. Prompting unusual news headlines such as “LeBron and the Pistons Lead East to All-Star game win“, the Detroit Pistons had succeeded in executing a hostile takeover of the 2006 All-Star Game, and it was awesome.

Timberwolves and former Pistons coach Flip Saunders dies of cancer at age 60

Flip Saunders, head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and former coach of the Pistons, lost his battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma today. He was 60 years old. He coached in the NBA for 17 years and won over 1,000 games. Saunders first made his illness public in August. Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also knows as Hodgkin’s disease, is a … Read more

Former Pistons coach Flip Saunders reveals he has lymphoma

Former Detroit Pistons head coach Flip Saunders is battling cancer, he revealed early this afternoon. Currently standing as the president and head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 60-year-old Saunders announced he’d been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an illness that in its current state, according to Saunders’ doctors, is “very treatable and curable”. … Read more