Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Winning Wasn’t Enough For Flip Saunders

I guess living in the shadow of Larry Brown is more difficult than originally thought. Flip Saunders only made it a year longer than Brown did in Detroit but is leaving under totally different circumstances. Saunders 3rd highest winning percentage and 30-21 playoff record during his tenure in Detroit weren’t enough.

Instead it was the fact that Saunders has coached more conference finals games (24) without reaching the NBA Finals than any coach since 1971. He also led the Pistons to becoming just the second NBA team to lose in the conference finals for three consecutive seasons. Those are streaks that Joe Dumars wants to see end and now he most likely will but not in the way he is expecting.

The Pistons aren’t necessarily proud of the fact that Detroit is the first team to make their conference finals six consecutive since Magic’s Showtime Lakers of the 1980. It isn’t eastern conference finals appearances that Dumars wants though. He wants NBA Championships in Detroit and only one in the last six years is way off the mark.

“There are 25,26 teams that would love to be where we are but good has not been good enough,” Dumars said. “I appreciate everything that Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders have done, but I also know they were handed some great teams.”

“It’s not like they had to take bad teams and make them good. The next coach is going to inherit a good team.”

Flip Saunders will resurface again somewhere, almost all NBA coaches do, and he’ll lead another team back into the playoffs and most likely on to the conference finals. As for the Pistons, their third coach in the last six seasons is gone and at least one of their stars (most likely Rasheed Wallace) will be traded if not more. Dumars is definitely shaking things up and I just hope that for his sake he isn’t shaking it up too much.

It only takes a few years of first and second round playoff exits for fans to begin wondering, what was wrong with going to the Eastern Conference Finals every year?