by Brett Edwards
I was lucky enough to be in Detroit for Friday night's Pistons game vs. the Bulls, and it was an awesome experience. Here are some thoughts on the trip:
My Seat: The Palace is a killer NBA arena. Granted, I've only been to four other ones: the old Forum where the Lakers used to play, the old Sports Arena (Clippers), Staples Center (Lakers/Clippers), and America West (Suns), but this one is great. Of course, it didn't hurt that my seats were basically five rows from the floor, just back and to the left of where Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen were sitting to call the game. There are courtside seats that go four rows deep, then an aisle, then a riser where the rest of the seats start to go up, and I was in the first row of the riser. Not bad. Side note: Jeff Van Gundy in person is really ... bald.
The introduction of the starting lineups for the Pistons was maybe the coolest thing like that that I've ever seen. I don't know if it was being that close to it, Mason's enthusiasm, or the fire balls shooting up behind the baskets, but all I can say is, it was fucking dramatic. Similar footage has probably been posted a million times, but here's the video from where I was sitting.
Automotion, the Pistons' cheerleaders: On a scale of 1-10, these girls average a 6. They fall into the classic "good from far, far from good" category. They are all thin and mildly attractive, but heavily made-up and they could all use some time in the gym doing some toning exercises. I know this because they were all walking back and forth in the aisle right and front of me the entire game. The bright side is that they were all very nice, giving us free programs that they had left over from passing them out to the courtside folks. And when they changed into their final outfit of the night which consisted of tight white spandex pants and halter tops, I actually decided to upgrade the average to a six-and-a-half.
Hooper, the Pistons' mascot: Maybe it's because I've never followed a team closely where a mascot was a prominent part of the act, but I just don't get the fascination with Hooper, the (horse?) dude that is in the costume running around firing up the crowd. Seriously, every fan seemed to love this thing... he it would walk by, and literally everyone was yelling things like, "Hey, Hooper! What's up, Hooper?!! Come here, Hooper!!!!!! HOOOOOOOPERRRR!!!!!" As Craig might say, "We Want Tacos" level excitement.
The Game: Unlike seemingly every arena in the NBA, the Pistons actually let the game speak for itself. What I mean by this is, there isn't constant noise being pumped in to entertain/occupy the crowd during the game. It's actually quiet: no music, no piped in defense chants, no race car sounds, nothing. Perhaps that's why Mason is overly exuberant with his call of the game. He and the team are the entertainment, not a bunch of noise that has nothing to do with the action. It was very refreshing, and I wish more teams would go back to that.
As for the contest, It was close the entire time, but the Pistons couldn't overcome TERRIBLE nights from Tayshaun and McDyess. Each contributed only four points, but McDyess was way worse because the Bulls kept leaving him open, to the point where I lost my voice in the fourth quarter screaming "STOP SHOOTING!!" after he'd fire up another brick when he was wide open. I know Maxiell was in foul trouble, but I would have liked to see more of him in the fourth instead of McDyess.
Tayshuan didn't seem to have the energy on this night, he was scored on twice down the stretch, once refusing to get out on Duhon when he mad a big three. As the ball swung to Duhon in the corner (basically right in front of where I was sitting), I yelled at Tayshaun to get out there, but he only took like a half step, didn't get a hand up, and Duhon nailed the three. *SIGH*
The Pistons have no one that can cover Nocioni. He had a big game, hitting threes and getting to the basket seemingly at will.
Joakim Noah is actually decent. He's like a controlled version of Anderson Varejao, and I mean that as a compliment. He brings the same energy, but instead of running around like a madman flopping into everyone and being only mildly effective, he's patient with it and makes a lot of good hustle plays around the basket.
The only down side to the evening was the fact that the Pistons lost, but then again they always lose to the Bulls in the regular season (5 out of the last 6). Other than that, it was a very exciting night at The Palace.