The Philadelphia 7*: Last Friday, seven Detroit Pistons skipped shoot-around in what is being called a “players’ protest.” The players were Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, Chris Wilcox, Tracy McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, and Austin Daye. Stuckey and Daye showed up as practice was ending. The story is (given from anonymous sources, of course) that they were protesting against head coach, John Kuester. It’s no secret that many of the players dislike him: Earlier this season, he had a mid-game argument with Prince, and had to be restrained; Prince has also given his two cents on the benching of Rip Hamilton, calling it “buffoonery.” Charlie Villanueva retweeted a negative comment towards Coach Kue days before the protest, and also had an issue with him last season, when both he and Daye missed the team plane. Hamilton has missed many games, and the reasoning was believed to be that it was due to the possible trading of the senior guard. Basically, Kuester has lost control of his players, and also their respect, if he had that in the first place.
Only six players played in the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. During the game, Kuester received two technical fouls, and was ejected. What did the players on the bench do? They laughed.
They giggled like 5th graders because that day hadn’t been filled with enough disrespect towards the coach, the organization, and more importantly, the fans. Only six players were playing in a game that the Pistons could have possibly one, and they were laughing. McGrady, however, claims they weren’t laughing at him. Really? Something else was funny at the exact moment the coach was ejected? What a coincidence!
- Daye and Stuckey missed the team bus due to a mix-up, and had to take a cab.
- Wilcox overslept.
- Prince and McGrady were both ill.
- Hamilton had no excuse. The team didn’t give any information on where he was, or why he was absent.
- Ben Wallace had the only legitimate excuse. He had been dealing with his brother’s illness for over a month.**
The players and Kuester say that there were other reasons for the absences. TMac has no recollection of an organized protest, Hamilton still pretends that they were all MIA due to chance, and Kuester says there was no protest, and is all an “internal matter.”
The Leader: Most of the blame falls on the shoulders of Rip Hamilton. Rip hasn’t seen much playing time, and after the trade deadline ended, and he was still a Piston, a different reasoning for benching him was given. Apparently, in January, Rip had an altercation with Kuester, stating that he was a failure. This was the second time Hamilton has had an issue with the coach, and as result was benched for it. Rip claims that he’s being blamed because he is the highest paid player on the team, and they need to blame someone. He hasn’t done anything wrong, at all. Ever. Why are we all picking on him?
Who is to blame?: Everyone. In two seasons, John Kuester has not gained the respect of his players, nor any control. Why else would players decided to boycott against him? Why hadn’t Joe Dumars stepped in until after everything happened? The biggest question: How come the players aren’t taking responsibility? Hamilton supposedly has had a talk with Kuester in hopes to mend the relationship, but he avoided all questions on whether he apologized. The team has yet to apologize to the organization or to the fans. The fans that watch as the team continues to struggle, and cross their fingers and hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Five members of the Philadelphia 7 were veterans, and the only apology came from a sophomore player: Austin Daye. “With that said, it hurt me to seem my teammates out there with only six players knowing I could help. That’s not a mistake I want to make again. I apologize to the Pistons fans and the Piston family for being late and my tardiness.” Daye still states that he was tardy instead of a protest. However, it is an apology, something the other Philadelphia 7 members haven’t given. Joe Dumars has stated that Kuester has his full support, and also, “We’ve had a long and proud history of being a first class organization that handles its business the right way. We expect everyone that represents the Detroit Pistons to do so in a first class manner and that will continue as we move forward.” It’s almost obvious that Kuester will finish out the season as the head coach. The only change since the incident is that Tracy McGrady has not played since. No one is sure why. Kuester avoided commenting on the subject, and TMac stated that someone should ask Kue. After everything that has happened, there is still a lack of communication in Detroit’s locker room. The players and the coach need to speak to one another.
Regardless of the players’ dislike of Kuester, he is the head coach, and deserves their respect. Especially if they expect to receive respect from him. (“Treat others as you would like to be treated”) The confrontations, the comments to the media, the tweets, and the protest are an embarrassment to a franchise known for its hard work. No team this offseason was fighting for Tracy McGrady, and in Detroit he received a second chance. This is the thanks they get. The team is up for sale, and any major changes can raise the price and prolong yet another obstacle. Would anyone want to own a team whose players decide when they come to work? Players that walk in the showers while the coach is speaking, and have frequent quarrels? The least the players can do is grow up and take responsibility. The avoidance of questions, and the “play stupid” approach is only creating more problems. In January, the team was 2.5 games behind Indiana or the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. Now, all playoff hopes are lost. The season can’t end soon enough.
The fans thank the Loyal 6 that played in last Friday’s game. If you are paid to show up to practice, and play basketball, then show up for practice and play the game. Be thankful that you have the chance to do so.
* Philadelphia 7 nickname courtesy of Pistons beat writer, Dave Hogg.
**Wallace’s brother recently passed away.
Kateasa is a part-time contributor to Stacheketball and was actually very nice about this. Follow her on Twitter: @Simply_Kateasa