Something has changed in our basketball culture. During the early to middle stages of his basketball career Detroit fans used to give it to superstar Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bulls. You knew this was the guy that was going to snatch the crown from the Bad Boy Pistons in the early 1990s.
You booed and jeered him all the while appreciating his basketball talents. You loved it when he was knocked to the ground by Rick Mahorn and John Salley. You loved it when Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman went chest to chest with him. It was a show. But the bottom line is you cheered for the Pistons and booed the heck out of Jordan.
But later in his career, after he mocked the Pistons, took away their dignity and called them a disgrace to basketball Piston fans began to cheer him.
The same happens when LeBron James comes to town. And it will happen again later today when Kobe Bryant leads the Los Angeles Lakers into the Palace to face the Pistons. There sure are a lot of LeBron and Kobe jerseys in town. And the closet Laker and Heat fans come out of the woodwork to cheer on their favorite player. Often there are almost as many cheers for the bad guys as it is for the good guys.
This is the fault of the NBA which loves to create super stars that capture our imaginations. Many people claim to hate James and Bryant but just as many love them not just here in Detroit but in Atlanta, Memphis and Washington D.C.
Their jobs are to beat the Pistons and both have done a very good job of it. LeBron once scored a gazillion points in a row while knocking out the Pistons from the playoffs. Bryant lost to the Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals but refused to give credit to the Pistons. He kept saying he was measuring up the Pistons and it was only a matter of time before he got it going. We are still waiting.
Should you not root for your home team? Or is star power more important?
I think we know the answer that.