TERRE HAUTE — I’ve been through Detroit before, but never had I entered the Palace of Auburn Hills until recently.
It’s not the Boston Garden, but there is some basketball tradition there.
When I was about eight years old, one of my first NBA memories was the Pistons taking down Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Standing through the Pearl Jam concert May 22, I was opposite the Pistons’ championship banners and probably not all that far from where Ron Artest jumped into the stands last season. (Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready did a little Artest impression, but he was welcomed into the stands.)
Five songs into the show and a day after the Pistons beat the Cavaliers in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference playoff series, Eddie Vedder’s first words were in honor of the hometown team.
“I think a congratulatory toast is in order …,” Vedder began. “I know It’s harder than hell to find a job in this town, but you certainly have a good basketball team.”
Even though Detroit is partly responsible for the Pacers’ demise — Artest was the Pacers’ best player and gave them the toughness to compete with Detroit — the Pistons’ lineup of Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups is one of the best ever assembled.
They were good before acquiring Rasheed Wallace and, love him or hate him, he is the most versatile talent in the league. And I like that he says what he thinks. Yeah, he’s arrogant. But what athlete doesn’t expect his team to win every game. The key to Detroit’s success is Rasheed spreading out the defense with his 3-point shot.
I won’t argue that these Detroit Pistons’ teams are better than the days of Bill Laimbeer, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars — at least not yet — but when they’re playing well, the 21st century Pistons play team basketball better than anyone.
Offensively, Steve Nash leading that up-tempo offense in Phoenix is more fun to watch. I hope you all saw Ben Wallace reject Shaquille O’Neal on Wednesday at Detroit. Big Ben came from the top of the lane to stuff Shaq, who had disposed of Rasheed Wallace with the force of his 325 pounds.
Maybe Ben and Rasheed inside, along with Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess off the bench is a stronger group than Laimbeer, Rodman, Rick Mahorn and John Salley.
I give the edge to the old-timers. Those days were great for the NBA. You went straight from Larry Bird’s Celtics battling the Lakers to the Bad Boys and then on to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls’ dynasty.
As much as a lot of people dismiss the NBA these days, the entertainment of this year’s playoffs has been hard to beat. There were a record nine overtime games in the playoffs before they even got to the Conference Finals.
Maybe Pearl Jam — the band’s first name was Mookie Blaylock after the former NBA point guard — would have made a stop in Indianapolis on the first leg of this tour if the Pacers had a team that could compete with Miami, Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix. Sorry Pacers fans, some work needs to be done, but, hey, Dale Davis is a Piston. Root for Dale to get a ring.
The best four teams made it to the Finals. Sorry San Antonio, Dallas proved deeper. How about that Devin Harris out of Wisconsin?
The Suns’ style of play has changed the game. Imagine Phoenix running all over Miami. Steve Nash deserves a ring, and if he can do it without a true big man (Amare Stoudemire), that would be an awesome accomplishment.
My picks are the Pistons winning two more with their backs against the wall to play Dallas, but a Phoenix-Detroit NBA Finals is my preference.
Pistons will let it reign with their second title in three years.
I I I
n MVC tournament in Des Moines — The Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball tournament will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, on the campus of Drake University in 2007, the Valley announced last week.
Drake will have the most talented and seasoned team in the league next season led by frontrunner for the next Jackie Stiles Award in 6-foot-1 Jill Martin. So perhaps the Missouri Valley Conference can send a quality representative to the Missouri Valley Conference this time around.
As you might imagine, Indiana State Coach Jim Wiedie has much to say on this topic. There’s not enough space in this column so watch for that soon.
Craig Pearson can be reached by phone after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4356 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE — I’ve been through Detroit before, but never had I entered the Palace of Auburn Hills until recently.
- Given to Fly
GIVEN TO FLY: Come to expect new standards of excellence
Records are definitely meant to be broken; athletes today are faster and stronger than those in the past in many endeavors in athletics.
GIVEN TO FLY: ISU women have solid recruiting class
The caliber of athletes that the Indiana State women’s basketball coaching staff is bringing in is on an upswing.
GIVEN TO FLY: Major leaguers John, Dorsett meet up at tonight’s game
Terre Haute’s only two big leaguers of the last 50 years — Tommy John and Brian Dorsett — will catch up with one another today.
FOOT NOTES: Valley natives perform well on national stage
Several Wabash Valley natives continue to shine on the national track and field scene.
'Til It's Over: Sycamores ‘in a good place,’ but searching for more in MVC
Can Teri Moren lift Indiana State, last year’s seventh-place team in the Missouri Valley Conference, to one of the league’s contenders in her first year on campus?
'Til It's Over: Two sets of identical twins should keep North Central baseball a contender
The last high school baseball team standing in the Wabash Valley was the North Central, the Thunderbirds falling short 4-3 in the Class A Semistate on Saturday just one game shy of Victory Field.
'Til It's Over: Jarvis, Anderson confident Olney, hard work leads to Division I dream
Olney, Ill., population 8,000-plus and known for its population of white squirrels, might not be the dream destination for high school basketball players in Indiana.
'Til It's Over: Robinson 7-footer more focused in postseason; 6-foot Jones keeps producing
Robinson 7-footer Meyers Leonard is not going to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA some day, but his odds of reaching the league are pretty solid if his game continues to evolve as it has during high school.
- 'Til It's Over: ‘Stepping stone’ game points Sycamores in right direction Whether the win comes against a top-25 team or a conference pushover, ending a four-game losing streak is always a relief.
- 'Til It's Over: Indianapolis ISU recruit rolling along in senior season As Indiana State recruit Anna Munn approached Christmas with the Decatur Central basketball team, the senior guard didn’t seem to need much of a wishlist.
- 'Til It's Over: Magic’s still there for '79 Sycamores For the former Indiana State players who visited the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in late November, the weekend was a chance to relive memories with teammates and see Larry Bird’s career with the Sycamores celebrated again.
- CRAIG PEARSON: North has strong history in cross country state finals Vigo County is home to just four IHSAA state championships in team sports. Most recently, Terre Haute South won girls titles in basketball (2002) and tennis (2001).
- 'Till It's Over: It’s been rough year but no need to break up Cubs' core Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is only in the first year of a three-year contract, and aren’t back-to-back division championships enough to keep him around despite this year’s season filled with bad luck?
- 'Til It's Over: Hansbrough, Hibbert give Pacers glimpse of future You might have heard of the Indiana Pacers’ 2009 first-round draft pick. He was on the television once in a while during his four-year career at North Carolina.
- 'Til It's Over: Bertoli, Moore put on show in abundance of events “Anthony and Erica” may not have the marketing capability of “Dan and Dave,” but neither of Indiana State’s outstanding multi-event participants had let-down performances this weekend in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships.
- ‘Walking wounded’: ISU seniors return to provide spark All three ISU seniors will graduate in May, and all three will be in uniform today as Indiana State battles Bradley in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament quarterfinals.
- Given to Fly: Northview standout runner Thacker coming to ISU Doc Brown told an old-timer in a saloon in “Back to the Future III” that despite having automobiles in the future people run for recreation.
- Given to Fly: Schilli’s Rodman-like performance aids ISU With Indiana State’s women’s basketball team ranking eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference in field-goal percentage (36.5), the Sycamores need as many shot attempts as possible to maintain their standing on top of the league.
- Given to Fly: A classic in every sense of the word What tournament director and co-founder Gary Fears had in mind when creating the tournament came to fruition Tuesday. Marshall, with an enrollment of 438 students, became the smallest school to win the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic in the ninth season of the tourney.
- Given to Fly: ISU women should build confidence off strong outing Indiana State did not pull off the monumental upset Saturday against No. 23 Kansas State, but the Wildcats are —aside from Connecticut in 2005 — the best team the Sycamores have played in the Jim Wiedie era.
- Given to Fly: ISU women's hoops team slides onto commercial radio Coach Jim Wiedie expects the Indiana State women’s basketball team to have a bit of a retro feel this season, meaning the Sycamores have the potential to get back to creating havoc with their full-court press.
- Given to Fly: ISU vets hope to prove pundits wrong Indiana State’s only two seniors were surprised to see they were picked ahead of just three Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball teams Tuesday morning.
Footnotes: In first marathon, former Sycamore comes out a winner
Indiana State graduate Dani Prince made her debut in the event with a victory in the Columbus Marathon on Sunday.
Prince’s goal was a time under 2 hours and 50 minutes, and she ran a 2:48.56.
Given To Fly: ISU volleyball turning things around
It was an extremely busy weekend for Indiana State athletics this weekend.
- Footnotes: Here’s hoping perfect weather is still around for Nationals in November The weather made for a perfect fall afternoon Saturday at LaVern Gibson Championship Course. For what it’s worth, the Farmer’s Almanac calls for more sunny conditions from Nov. 20-24, with the NCAA Championships falling on the 24th this year.
- Terre Haute natives cherish memories of ‘House that Ruth Built’ Yankee Stadium was packed as usual on Easter Sunday in 1979. George Steinbrenner’s Yankees were one loss away from being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers to start the season. That was no way for the two-time defending World Series champions to perform, so the boss had a conversation with his new veteran left-handed starting pitcher prior to the game.
- Footnotes: Oregon men and women have strangehold on preseason NCAA cross countryrankings The Oregon men and women were almost both unanimous picks as the No. 1 teams in the nation in the preseason cross country national rankings released recently.
- Given to Fly: Bronze medalist has strong ISU ties One of the remarkable American medalists of this 2008 Olympics thus far also provided one of the most sparkling stories in the brief history of the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course here in Terre Haute.
- Former ISU QB gets back to Amarillo This week, Indiana State signed its most highly-touted football prospect in years, and former quarterback Julian Reese is ripping it up for the Amarillo Dusters of Arena2.
- Indiana State track sending strong group to NCAA regional Three sophomore women and three senior men lead a large Indiana State contingent of track and field athletes into the NCAA Mideast Regional this weekend at Fayetteville, Ark.
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