Last night, the Pistons broadcast had Hall of Famer Dave Bing on for a couple minutes early in the second quarter of the game against the Nets. These are generally nice and fuzzy moments. An old face of the franchise, or even just a guy you remember from long ago, shooting the shit with the broadcasters, reminiscing a little, telling everyone what they’re up to now—we love this, don’t we?
For the retired athlete, one obligation of this appearance—maybe the only obligation—is to offer a vote of confidence in the franchise’s current direction. This way, the team’s future success has been foretold by a greater basketball authority and the fans really do have permission to believe. Rip Hamilton made a mid-game cameo on the Pistons broadcast a couple months ago during a game against the Bulls. Despite the which-of-us-is-the-bigger-oaf contest unfolding between Kelly Olynyk and Cory Joseph as he spoke, Hamilton praised Detroit’s young core as “the next ones to get us back to the promised land.” Ben Wallace joined the broadcast once this season and, also understanding what was being asked of him, complimented Isaiah Stewart’s work ethic. This is the stuff of a civilized society.
Bing had no time for it. Asked for his impression of Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham, who has looked more and more like “The Guy” lately after a forgettable first few games of his NBA career, Bing said he did not think Cunningham was “The Guy” and also got in a dig at Cunningham’s young backcourt partner, Killian Hayes:
I think he’s starting to come into his own right now. I mean, was worried about him early on in terms of his shooting, but he’s been playing very, very well. So I think he’s going to be an All-Star caliber player. I don’t think he’s a guy you build your team around—we still gotta get that guy. We don’t have him yet, in my opinion. And I also think our weakness is the backcourt. We gotta get a good point guard.
Well! The Pistons, whose biggest weakness with all due respect is having no starting center at all, may have heard Bing; they went on a 16-1 run right afterward to trim Brooklyn’s lead by halftime. Another 9-0 Pistons run to open the third quarter featured a very cool Cunningham steal and dunk. Do not ask about the final score of the game.