While we're uncertain if Tayshaun Prince ever joins Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups in the Palace rafters, few can dispute his importance to a team that made six consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and won an NBA championship in 2004.
And, since it's his birthday, let's pay homage to the Palace Prince:
10 Tay Goes Big in First Game Back
Prince wasted little time in announcing his re-arrival in Auburn Hills last February. In the opening quarter of his first game back, he meandered the length of the floor for a signature coast-to-coast throwdown past an outstretched Timofey Mozgov.
9 Surprising in the Rookie Game
Right, right, we know. No defense, exhibition game, nothing matters. Still, with all eyes on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, we always took pride in young Tayshaun showing he was capable of a little flash above the rim himself, scoring the last of his 18 points on an impressive between-the-legs finish.
8 Tayshaun Prince and the Forgotten Pacers Block
This one tends to get lost in the shuffle due to certain other happenings during the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. But don't get it twisted, Tayshaun's denial of Al Harrington's sure dunk in the final minutes of a game where both teams struggled to break the 60-point barrier was crucial. It set the stage for a clinching 4-0 “run,” sending the Pistons to their first NBA Finals appearance in well over a decade.
7 An Endless Stream of Stretch Armstrong Oops
Tayshaun's alley-oops rarely wrecked the rim, and his post-dunk theatrics were virtually non-existent. Basically, he was the anti-Kenyon Martin. But for over ten years, Pistons fans learned to bank on the fact that when Richard Hamilton or Chauncey Billups broke into the open floor, Tayshaun Prince was going to be filling a wing for a pterodactyl-armed throwdown.
6 Haunting the Lakers
Tayshaun's 2008 regular season game-winner against the Los Angeles Lakers was merely the cherry on top of a career that partly revolved around making Kobe Bryant's life miserable. Prince and Richard Hamilton forced Bryant into 43-113 shooting (.381%) during Detroit's 2004 NBA Finals romp.
5 Saving the Playoffs with a Block… Again
Game 5, 2008 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu scored back-to-back buckets to narrow the Pistons' lead to three. Looking to extend the series, Turkoglu attacked the rim, but Prince was ready and waiting. Game over. Series over.
4 Tayshaun Hits Five Straight 3-Pointers at Kentucky
The only reason this isn't higher is that it didn't happen in Detroit. Regardless, it's one of our favorite basketball clips ever. In the zone of all zones, Prince's rapid ascent from opening minute jitters to molten hot lava still gives us goosebumps. After hitting his fourth triple in two minutes, he forgoes the offense and calls for the ball in the backcourt before launching from the logo. Who does that?! Tayshaun Prince.
3 Tayshaun's Double-Overtime Poster Dunk for the Win
Prince was riding a high following his team's 2004 championship run. So when the 2005 season opened, we were treated to a more confident version of Tayshaun, not afraid of driving past defensive stoppers like Gerald Wallace and dunking on shot-blocking specialists like Emeka Okafor in double-overtime of a one-point game.
2 Young Tayshaun Earns His Wings (2003 Playoffs)
Most know the story by now: Tayshaun Prince gets drafted 23rd overall and plays just 10 minutes a night in 42 regular season games. After two DNP-CDs in their first-round series against the Magic (both losses), Pistons coach Rick Carlisle brought Tayshaun off the bench as a last-ditch means of slowing Tracy McGrady. It worked. T-Mac's numbers dipped, and Tayshaun put on a show.
By the time the Pistons reached the second round, Prince had become a folk hero in Detroit, scoring a twisting and improbable game-tying hoop at the end of regulation in Game 2 against the 76ers, tallying seven points in overtime to secure the win.
The Tayshaun Prince era had officially begun.
1 The Block
Was there ever any question? Tayshaun's chase-down block of Reggie Miller in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals prevented the Pistons from facing an 0-2 hole in the series and, for all intents and purposes, saved their championship hopes. It's a play that ranks amongst the city's all-time greats, joining Kirk Gibson's clincher in '84, Steve Yzerman's OT winner against St. Louis, and Vinnie's 0.07 against Portland. In one epic dash, Prince became a legend.
Thanks for everything, Tayshaun.