Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pistons Opening Night Shouldn't Be A Banner Moment

The Pistons have another banner to raise tonight, but it's not the "real" one, which means there aren't any rings to pass out, which means there won't be as much pomp and circumstance, which means the tip-off to tonight's season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks shouldn't be too long after 8 p.m.

Public address announcer Mason might not need as many throat lozenges, and maybe the team will even save the cost of the fire being shot through those cylinders near the baskets.

Count your blessings. The Miami Heat last night put on a lavish show to celebrate last June's championship, including the distribution of those gaudy rings, and they promptly got annihilated by the Chicago Bulls, 108-66. I mean, you'd think you'd be safe taking the Heat plus 40 points.

Those time-consuming, pregame festivities seem to be more of a hurdle for the home team to clear than for the visitors. Almost never do the good guys live up to the billing.

In 1988, when the Pistons opened up the Palace against the nice, safe opponents called the expansion Charlotte Hornets, there were the usual dronings on of local politicos, civic leaders, and team management. It went on. And on. Typical. Then, the Pistons, who the season before had lost to the Lakers in the Finals in seven games, played an uninspired, flat game and didn't put the brand-new Hornets away until the closing minutes. Of course, the following June the Pistons won their first world's championship, so who cares how the season began, I suppose.

Opening nights in the NBA are nice and all, but they of course lack the romance and community fervor that grips the city when the baseball season begins. MLB Opening Day is a day at Disney World; NBA Opening Night is an Eminem concert.

The banner the Pistons will raise tonight is the swatch of polyester that represents the Pistons winning the Central Division title last season. There is no banner for setting the franchise record for wins in a single season, which the Pistons did in '05-'06 (64). There is no banner for qualifying for the Eastern Conference Finals, which the Pistons did. And there is no banner for going out and getting some bench help, which the Pistons also did.

So tonight's game shouldn't be delayed too long. Just one banner to raise. No rings. No extended video tributes.

And no Pistons +40 point spreads.

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