A message to all Detroit Pistons fans: Your team is fine. It is in better hands than it was when it left New Jersey dejected. Joe Dumars knows what he is doing. I’m reassuring you. This is life, and sometimes life likes to mix things up for no reason. The dismissal of Rick Carlisle will not bring an end to the world nor to the Palace of Auburn Hills.

J. Brady McCollough

For some reason, I don’t think many of you are actually believing me now. In fact, you’re probably wondering whether to continue reading or go back to constructing a life-size memorial of the 2002 NBA Coach of the Year. Well, you’re probably not going that far, but I’m pretty sure the majority of you have been reminiscing of the good ole days of last month and not discussing the future of this team.

Essentially, this decision came down to the fact that the Pistons are now a team eight wins away from a title, assuming they get back to game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. Could Rick Carlisle have gotten those wins in future years? Probably. But this is a time when winning now is more important than winning later. Former Philadelphia coach Larry Brown will most likely be the Pistons’ head coach as early as today, and if there is any coach out there who can get those wins faster than Carlisle, it’s Brown.

Now that I’ve said Dumars made the right move, I probably need to back up this statement with something other than janitorial gibberish. So to you, the reader, here are my reasons why you, a fan of Detroit sports, should be more concerned with the Red Wings than with those who reside at Two Championship Drive.

1. Brown has been to the NBA Finals, Carlisle has not. For that matter, Brown’s teams have not been anything great, but they exceeded expectations like the Pistons of the past two years. This Detroit team is the most talented team that Brown has ever inherited. 2. Brown endured losing Allen Iverson for 20 games in 2001-02, yet the ‘Sixers still managed to finish sixth in the Eastern Conference. Not many coaches would have survived losing a star player of that caliber – especially when, without Iverson, the team’s fate fell into the hands of an aging Dikembe Mutombo. 3. The Los Angeles Clippers have reached the playoffs twice since 1980. Their coach in those two playoff seasons: Two-year coach Larry Brown. Need I say more? 4. Derrick Coleman was a dominant force against the Pistons in the playoffs. One could only imagine what he could do with Ben Wallace – or Darko Milicic for that matter. 5. It is unlikely that Brown will feel any pressure. Seriously. He was able to make his relationship with A.I. work, and translated it into wins. It’s safe to say he can handle media, fans or players chanting “Carlisle forever, Brown never,” when he arrives in Auburn Hills. 6. Though Iverson did a lot of the work, the former Tar Heel made him into a star. Expect the same for whatever comes out of this year’s No. 2 pick.

7. I don’t really have any more good reasons, only because Carlisle was that good of a coach and a person from what I could tell. When it comes down to it, the Pistons just improved their chances of winning the big one with the hiring of Brown. Essentially he’s the Super Nintendo to Carlisle’s Nintendo, or the DVD to his VHS. It’s not that the predecessor was bad in any way – I still play Super Mario 3 and record on a VCR – it’s just that when something seemingly better comes along, one should take it.

I know there is a lot of talk of how Carlisle upset the front office – most likely everyone that doesn’t have a number retired in the rafters of the Palace – but Dumars is too intelligent to just dump the best thing to happen to Detroit since Scotty Bowman because of some stuck-up high-ranking officials. Dumars had to have known that Brown was not only available, but that he would become a Piston.

Note: In the rare chance Larry Brown is a Houston Rocket by week’s end, the crawling back to Carlisle would need to begin ASAP, and the tone of this piece of writing would

change drastically.

In the end I’m not surprised to see Carlisle go. Dumars wasn’t known as the tenacious defender that he was for doing the same thing over and over again. He got rid of Jerry Stackhouse because he could get a player of almost equal talent for a cheaper price. Now the Pistons have eight figures of cap room to go after players like Jermaine O’Neal (this year) or Kevin Garnett (last year, maybe this year). He was able to pull a sign-and-trade with Grant Hill. Now the Pistons have a solid backup point guard and an all-star power forward. Dumars gets rid of his Xs-and-Os coach. Now he has an experienced and successful coach for reportedly the next five years.

The only real amazing thing of all this is how quickly message-board fans have turned their backs on the man who got so much for a soon-to-be defunct Hill.

So I say to you that Rick Carlisle was man enough Saturday to sit next to the man who released him and to actually stand by Dumars’ decision – though he obviously did not like it. Maybe those who back Carlisle need to follow his direction, put a smile on their face and give Dumars a chance.

– Kyle wants to remind you that the Lions made the NFC Championship game in 1991, and topped out when they made no changes. He can be reached at kylero@umich.edu.

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