Several fans agreed to share their opening night experience and reasons for supporting the Pistons with me, for the Woodward Sports Network. Their answers represented best the majority I received. Many fans on social media, in comment sections, and in person, all had similar views to the ones below.
“Seeing the arena filled truly shows how much love we have for Detroit and the Pistons. Opening night felt close to the Bad Boys era. This year’s team has restored so much. I see Cunningham, Ivey, Stewart, Duren and Bey taking us places. The drive and passion of all these guys this season is exhilarating, this is our year!”
“I was in attendance for the last playoff game the Pistons played (game 4, 2019 against the Bucks) and I will say [the home opener] felt more electric than that! There was more hope in the air. For that playoff game the Pistons were already down 3-0 and Blake was playing on one leg. The team felt like getting swept in round one was just about the ceiling of the team. But [opening] night, there was hope and excitement. We know this team has so much room the grow and feel like there’s a real shot we could be one of the most exciting teams atop the league in a few years.
The stands were full of young people, probably between 18 and 30. When I was younger the only people I knew who liked the Pistons were older, middle aged men. Probably because they grew up on the peak of Pistons basketball. Now that we have a new age of Pistons basketball that is full of hope and excitement, you are seeing a lot of people my age really get fired up for the team again. It’s great to see!”
This organization made a strong statement that blowouts were a thing of the past, as the Pistons vow to compete “every night”.
“We’re in the competing stage right now… I think Memphis was competing and are now trying to enter the contender phase…consistently now we’ll be able to compete with who ever we play”. – Troy Weaver
Fans have seen Weaver transform the roster from dreams of quick first-round exits into one that exudes persistence and hard work.
So the fans didn’t have to be sold on this night. Instead, they showed up, trusting in the organizations mission to “compete every night”.
Pistons Restoration Critics
A win on opening night wasn’t enough to stave off critics. Following a couple losses to the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, some fans began to vocalize their displeasure.
From comments on social media and interviewing fans critical of the team, there’s generally valid concern expressed. But could it be misplaced?
Critics have accused supportive fans of blindly following a team that’s been down for over a decade. Comments such like these are prevalent among those who are not on board with the rebuild:
“Troy Weaver hasn’t won anything.”
“We should’ve chosen Bennedict Mathurin.”
“Coach Casey isn’t a good coach at developing young talent, just look at Killian Hayes.”
I could go on, but I hope the point is understood.
While these are all arguably debatable important questions to answer, what is the context?
For years, the sentiment among Pistons supporters was they’d “support a young rebuilding team”. Even if it meant enduring more losing, so long as the team was being built the right way.
A complete tear down to the studs, and a re-pouring of the foundation. To put this in perspective, Killian Hayes is now the longest tenured Detroit Piston in just his 3rd year in the NBA.
Hayes was also Troy Weaver’s first draft pick, which kicked off a roster that has been completely turned over. A cap sheet that will afford the Pistons $60+ million in cap space next off season, and a young nucleus to build around.
While there are things to criticize on a game by game basis, the overall rebuild has largely resulted in positive steps forward.
Turnovers, perimeter defense, Killian Hayes, and more, are all fair game for criticism. These subjects are aptly covered across the different Woodward Sports Network shows and podcasts. With a wide range of opinions, reporting and analysis.
“Why Support Losing?”
When talking to fans, both critical and supportive, I heard a common question from those not too happy with the losing. Simply, “why support losing”?
I decided to ask that question, and a few more, to those who were ‘all-in’ on the teams rebuild. They all attended the first home game, and watched the games against the Pacers and Knicks. Their answers were enlightening and provided a more balanced look into their belief of Troy Weaver, Dwane Casey and the Pistons foundation.
Are you supporting the team and its direction, despite what the record may be at the end of the year?
“Yes I am supporting my team to win or lose. I still think we will be fighting for a play-in spot this year, barring anymore major injuries. 2023-2024 will be the year we move into the top 4 tier of the east, due to a good free agency class and more experienced developed players in house. I would like to see beef stew slide into that for 4 slot whenever noel or Bagley comes back. Move Bojan or Saddiq to bench for more scoring punch.”
“I support the team no matter what the turn out is! I can’t set my expectations too high, it’s going to take some hard work and time for them to be able to compete. To learn how other teams compete. If I had to put a number in it, I’d say anywhere between 2-6 years before they are. Our team is filled out with young guys who are still getting the feel of the NBA, they’re showing out though! I think we need to work on better communication between players and putting together teammates who work well together. Our improvement on 3-point shooting is a whole 180 from last season. They’re learning and growing as they go, that’s all we can ask of them!”
“100% I am supporting them and the direction. I love the core of Cade, Ivey, Bey, Stew, and Duren. Troy calls it a process, and a process takes time and patience.
I believe the Pistons are 2 years away from winning a playoff series, and probably 3-4 years away until being title contenders. It will still take a few seasons for this young nucleus to gel together, and it’ll take Troy a couple of off-seasons to make the final touches to the roster (because a big splashy trade is coming at some point).
As far as right now, I don’t think they need to make any drastic changes to the roster. I think theses guys need some consistency right now so they can gel and learn to play off one another. You can’t keep changing the roster around all the time or it makes it hard for those young pieces to grow.”
Photo credit: Tyler Thurmond October 19, 2022.
The Pistons will have a chance to bounce back Tuesday, October 25th. They will be on the road to take on Michigan native Kyle Kuzma and the Washington Wizards.
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