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Detroit Pistons 2004 NBA championship team still one, big family 20 years later

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Detroit Pistons 2004 NBA championship team still one, big family 20 years later


Little Caesars Arena was dotted with jerseys from the past on Sunday — Wallace, Hamilton, Billups.

It’s been more than a decade since any of the players last put on a Detroit Pistons uniform, but they still generated some of the loudest cheers of the afternoon. 

It’s been 20 — yes, 20 — years since the Pistons won their last championship in 2004. The organization honored the “Goin’ To Work” era before and during the team’s 104-101 loss to the Miami Heat. Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace and others signed autographs in the arena’s concourse pregame while walking down a blue carpet. 

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Ten players — Billups, Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Darvin Ham, Mehmet Okur, Elden Campbell, Mike James, Lindsey Hunter and Tremaine Fowlkes — were present at the halftime ceremony, along with former and current Pistons general manager George David, former assistant GM Scott Perry, trainers Arnie Kander and Mike Abdenour, and others. 

THINGS AREN’T QUITE LIKE ’04 YET: Pistons’ deadline moves paying off with better defense, stronger finishes

Former head coach Larry Brown and team president Joe Dumars weren’t present, but sent congratulatory video messages that aired on the Jumbotron in-game.

“When you get in that room and you hear Lindsey Hunter, the way that he’s talking and cracking jokes, and the same jokes that he was doing today was the same jokes he did 20 years ago, it brings you right back to the locker room all over again,” Hamilton said before the game. “If you talk to guys, especially when they retire from the game and go about their lives, especially the second half of their lives, the one thing they always say is we miss the locker room. To get back there with the guys and be laughing and joking, those stories, is amazing.” 

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[ MUST LISTEN: Make “The Pistons Pulse” your go-to Detroit Pistons podcast, available anywhere you listen to podcasts (Apple, Spotify) or watch live/on demand on YouTube. ] 

The Pistons’ starting five in 2004 — Billups, Hamilton, Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace — were nicknamed “The Best Five Alive.” They pulled off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history by defeating the heavily-favored Los Angeles Lakers, led by Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, in five games. 

They were renowned for their stifling defense, holding teams to an NBA-low 83.5 points per game during the regular season. They held an NBA-record 11 teams under 70 points, an unfathomable accomplishment in today’s offense-happy league. 

And they did it without a textbook superstar on the roster, though Billups and four-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace are recognized as two of the best players of their era. 

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“We didn’t, and we actually took pride in that too,” Billups said on Sunday. “We didn’t have no superstars, I would agree with that. We had All-Stars, but superstars are different, and most teams that win it all usually have one or two of those guys. We were able to do it without that. But we had guys that could dominate games night in and night out still not be considered that. 

“We never took offense to that. I know I personally didn’t. We didn’t have superstars, but we had All-Stars and we had a great team.”

Though those Pistons thrived in a different era, where hand-checking was permitted and teams took far fewer 3-pointers, Hamilton believes the 2004 team still would thrive today. He noted the Pistons’ starting frontcourt featured two players that could defend the perimeter. Also, the 3-point shot was a favorite of Rasheed’s. 

“I think so,” Hamilton said. “I think we would’ve done really well at it because you gotta remember with our team, and if you look at teams now, it’s all about can your bigs guard 1-5. That’s a big part of it. And Ben and Rasheed, they were able to switch out on LeBron James. LeBron is the greatest player that’s playing basketball right now. He’s still probably a top-five guy in the league. With our squad the way that we were playing, Sheed was a guy that picked and popped. People always say you need to go in the post, you need to go on the block. So he was before his time. We would fit right into today’s game.” 

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Though this championship group may not get together often, Hamilton said they all still stay in regular contact. Some still have prominent roles in the league — Billups and Ham are both head coaches with the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively, and Prince is an assistant general manager with the Memphis Grizzlies. 

“Memo, we was supposed to play golf every month but he keeps dodging me because he doesn’t want me to see his true handicap,” Hamilton said. “Darvin, we see Darvin in L.A. all the time. Elden, we talk on the phone about his real estate endeavors. So we still talk a lot, man. This wasn’t just guys that played basketball together. We were more of a family.” 

That family dynamic, along with the way the team epitomized Detroit’s culture of hard work, are key reasons why the team’s popularity endures two decades later.

“It will never die,” Billups said. “What we did, it can never be undone. We had a lot of success. We only won one championship, we felt like we should’ve won more, had more. But we did win that one. I always say this, the way that we did it — the personnel, the talent, the salary cap and all of those things — it will never be done again. We love that. We talk about that all the time. We took pride in that.”

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Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him @omarisankofa.





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Detroit, MI

Metro Detroit sinkhole to be repaired after sewer collapse

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Metro Detroit sinkhole to be repaired after sewer collapse


NFL Draft road closures, Michigan woman in fatal boat club crash gets $1.5M bond and more top stories

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NFL Draft road closures, Michigan woman in fatal boat club crash gets $1.5M bond and more top stories

04:03

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Crews are repairing a sinkhole in Birmingham caused by the collapse of a 12-inch sewer. 

City of Birmingham


(CBS DETROIT) – Crews are set to repair a sinkhole in an Oakland County community Wednesday following a sewer collapse, city officials said. 

The sinkhole is located on Willits between Chester and Greenwood. 

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City officials investigated the sinkhole on Tuesday, April 23, and determined it was caused by a 12-inch sewer collapse. The collapse caused a surcharge to flow into the catch basin that leads into the Rouge River, city officials said. 

The surcharge is less than 100 gallons, according to city officials, and crews installed a bypass to contain the overflow. 

Birmingham’s contractor will complete the repairs on Wednesday.

There is no threat to public health, and Birmingham “is in compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination permit,” according to city officials. 

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Metro Detroit airports prepare for influx of travelers ahead of NFL Draft

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Metro Detroit airports prepare for influx of travelers ahead of NFL Draft


(CBS DETROIT) – Hundreds of thousands of people are making their way to Detroit for the 2024 NFL Draft. Some will be coming by private plane.

Local airports have been preparing for the draft for months, coordinating private flights and planning with the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials said the Detroit Metro Airport is expecting a 5% to 25% increase in traffic.

“What that looks like is anywhere from one to 400 extra operations for the NFL Draft,” said Michael Fawaz, the director of Willow Run Airport.

LATEST ON THE NFL DRAFT:

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Willow Run is about 15 minutes from the metro airport. It hasn’t seen an uptick in private flight traffic yet, but that could change quickly.

“They can file their flight plan last minute, they can do it today or tomorrow.”

Fawaz said the area is expecting the brunt of the plane traffic on Thursday and Friday. And they don’t just have to coordinate landings and take-offs. They also have to have places to park all of the planes.

 “We will close one of our runways if needed,” said Fawaz. 

However, he said it’s nothing they haven’t faced before. 

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“When Ohio State and Michigan play, it gets very busy at Willow Run. We are only 15 minutes from the Big House, so we’re used to that type of traffic.”

Detroit Metro is also prepared for commercial travelers, who will have an easier time getting to the draft activities with the new express bus service. 

“The Detroit Airport Express will take folks right from the airport to downtown Detroit,” said Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer.

He said the city and the Michigan Department of Transportation have done a lot of work to prepare for the draft, including improving highway access and the people mover.

“Work that the city, and in some cases the state, have planned for many years. But we were able to accelerate it in anticipation of the draft.”

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Kolodin said the draft isn’t just an event for athletes and sports fans. through it, there’s been added greenery, signage, storefront upgrades, and artwork that benefit all Michiganders.



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Detroit Lions C Frank Ragnow may retire after 2024 season, per report | Sporting News

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Detroit Lions C Frank Ragnow may retire after 2024 season, per report | Sporting News


It appears there is a chance that the Detroit Lions could lose their starting center, Frank Ragnow, after the 2024 campaign.

According to Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda, the 2024 season could be Ragnow’s last, as sources are telling him the three-time Pro Bowl center could retire following this coming season.

“Sources tell me this could be Ragnow’s final season, and he may retire once the Lions’ campaign in 2024 is completed,” Pauline wrote.

Ragnow will turn 28 in May, but he has played through injuries over the years, including a toe issue that he once called “kind of inoperable.” 

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When asked about retirement following last season, Ragnow shot it down and made it clear he’s playing in 2024. However, comments about the toll injuries have taken on him lend to the idea that retirement could be on the table in the near future.

“It takes a toll on you,” Ragnow said of his injuries, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “It really takes a toll on you, so I need to find a way to get back to Frank and I don’t regret any of this at all, but it weighs on you and I’m just going to take some time and really figure everything out to make sure that I’m feeling good, not only for me the football player but for me to be the best husband and best father and everything with that as well.”

Ragnow, who has two more years on his current contract after 2024, is one of the premier centers in the NFL, so losing him would be a massive blow. The Lions need to start planning for something like that, and that’s why taking a center is definitely on the table in the 2024 NFL Draft.



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