Hiring a beloved ex-player to be your GM is sort of like hiring your best friend to be your stockbroker.
When he is advising you to buy Apple and the money is pouring in things are great, but before you know it he gets cocky, he starts investing your money in cocaine and a line of cars powered entirely by the dung of Llamas.
Now you are stuck with him. You can’t fire your buddy. It would just be too painful.
This is where the Pistons are with Joe Dumars, whose early brilliant investments have given way to a bunch of Ponzi scams.
The NBA has a long history of former player GMs and in the old days it made sense. But being a GM in today’s NBA is more about negotiation and complex finance than being able to spot a quality prospect in the second round of the draft.
Let’s face it, most agents are Harvard law grads whose entire lives have been dedicated to fleecing people at the negotiating table.
Dumars actually thought he got good bargains when he signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to those ridiculous contracts. That alone shows you how over his head he is with some of these guys.
Dumars was brilliant early on: the trades to bring Hamilton and Ben Wallace, the acquisition of Chauncey Billups, drafting Tayshaun Prince, and the 'Sheed deal, which will go down as one of the most lopsided trades in history.
Dumars made all the right moves and won a title without a superstar, something no other team in the modern era has done.
I think this success ultimately made Dumars think he was the smartest guy in the room and for a long time, he was. But Dumars’ “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing, I’m Joe Dumars” attitude has led to this current Pistons mess, a roster with no identity, no leadership, and several bloated, untradeable contracts.
Should Dumars be fired? I don’t know. He kept the Pistons relevant for the longest stretch in their rich history; he is an iconic figure and probably the most beloved Piston of all time. He also brings legitimacy to the organization and carries a lot of weight with the players.
What I do know is firing him is going to be like firing Mike Ditka in Chicago, whether it is warranted or not, there is going to be a large part of the population that disagrees and does it vocally.
To me, Dumars will always be the guy I tried to mimic in the driveway, down to those god awful nut-hugger shorts. The guy who was part of one of the greatest backcourts of all time.
But I don’t wear those shorts outside of the house; their time has come and gone. Dumars’ might have too.
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