The Pistons kicked off their first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. They gave them a real dogfight for the entirety of the game, but it was Cleveland pulling away late for a 106-101 win, making some experts around the country raise eyebrows about how the series could play out.
It’s a David vs. Goliath match-up as the uber-talented Cavaliers are led by the NBA’s premier superstar LeBron James, and the Pistons closest thing to a superstar is center Andre Drummond. Both teams have good role players who more times than not are the ones who end up determining a series. Those are the guys this list is going to focus on.
It seems like this year’s Pistons is a roster full of potential unsung heroes, and if they do the unthinkable and upset Cleveland, we’re all going to be racing to crown who the x-factor was, and who got overlooked. Join us in remembering the un-remembered as we present to you the Pistons’ five most unsung heroes of the postseason.
Of course we all know who Tayshaun is now, but there was a time when he was a relatively unknown lengthy commodity coming off the bench. He would come on the floor, play solid defense, offer decent shooting, and then would head back to the bench and wouldn’t be thought twice about.
This is until the Pistons played the Philadelphia 76ers and the Palace Prince provided all sorts of trouble for Allen Iverson and Co. Prince was the best player on the floor for the Pistons that series and came up huge in the clutch time and time again, and that is when he became the Tayshaun Prince we all knew and loved, and then maybe didn’t love so much towards the end of his tenure here. Nonetheless it cannot be overstated just how important Tayshaun was to not only the 2003 Pistons, but the entire Going to Work era.
If Big Nasty was your favorite Piston, wear that as a badge of honor. Here we see Williamson taking over the do-or-die Game 5 of the 2002 first-round series between the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors. The context here is that Williamson was traded to the Pistons from the Raptors in exchange for Jerome Williams.
Instead of being professional about it and understanding business is business, Williamson does what we all would have done and exacted revenge on his former employer topping it off with a DMX bark. Well done, Corliss. Well done.
Detroit’s favorite Turk! If you don’t remember Okur, he was the skilled foreign big man we drafted that actually worked out. Okur was drafted in 2001 but spent time in Turkey before coming to the Pistons for the 2002-03 season.
That time in Turkey helped Okur hone his skills and he provided immediate dividends for the Pistons in the playoffs. In Game 1 of the 2003 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Okur went a perfect 7-7 from the floor and finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in Detroit’s 98-87 victory.
How can ‘The Microwave’ be unsung if he has his jersey in the rafters? Very valid question, but it can be answered in two parts: 1) The Pistons are very generous with who they decide to hang in the rafters
2) When you think of The Bad Boys, Vinnie Johnson might be the fifth or sixth name that comes to mind.
The reality is though that Johnson was essential to those Piston teams and provided them with a clutch scorer who could provide buckets in bunches. It also allowed the Pistons to play a three-guard system with him, Joe Dumars, and Isiah Thomas, that was a match-up nightmare for other teams.
The Microwave was a great enough offensive player to beat almost any one-on-one match-up and because so much attention had to be paid to other guys on the court, that was what Johnson was looking at all the time. I don’t have to go into great detail about Detroit Agent 007’s playoff heroics, because all that needs to be said is in the video below.
The anti-bad boy, Salley’s personality was closer to that of Magic Johnson than it was to Rick Mahorn, but when they were on the court it was all one unit. Salley was Tayshaun-eque in the sense that he was long, wasn’t afraid to hustle, and could make things very uncomfortable for opposing offenses.
Salley was also extremely athletic, as seen in the video below, which presented a match-up made in hell when he and Dennis Rodman were on the floor together.
Those are the most unsung playoff heroes in franchise history, who each played a pivotal role in helping their team win a championship.
It’s not expected everybody will agree with this list, which is the beauty of role players. Every person values different things when determining a player’s importance to a team which often times makes debates about the unsung guys much funner than a debate about stars. LeBron vs. Jordan is played out, but Gerald Henderson vs. Bobby Sura? Now you’ve got my attention.