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More Burning Bridges

In response to this response:

"Not sure how this relates to Isiah Thomas, Andy.  You say Rip hasn’t handled this with an ounce of class or dignity, but can you elaborate on what he’s done wrong?  He hasn’t said anything negative about the coach, the gm, the players or the organization to the press.  There’s a lot of hatred aimed at Rip right now, but what isn’t based on hearsay doesn’t have a factual base.
I’m really amazed at how quickly fans have turned on Rip, and I’d love to see an objective reasoning on what he’s done wrong publicly.  
to elaborate, when I say “I’m amazed at how quickly fans have turned on Rip” I don’t mean that fans shouldn’t desire more on court.  I’ve wanted dude moved since before he signed the extension after the Billups trade.  What I mean by fans turning on him is how quick they are to blame him for this mess, and how they point at him for handling it poorly.  Thus far, he’s complained that he’s not playing, but he hasn’t said anything negative about Kuester, Dumars or anyone else.  He’s been more graceful than I would be, I tell you that.  If I was in his shoes, I’d be farting curses and throwing chairs.  Dude has handled himself with a lot of class in this situation, I have to admire that in him as much as I want his contract off of this roster."  -Mike

There is no doubt Rip has handled the situation ok publicly, Mike.  You are correct about his refusal to overtly express his feelings to the media.  (However, he did offer his initial “disrespected” comments unsolicited.)  My disappointment lies in his refusal to discuss his plight with his own coach or boss.  It amuses me that he wouldn’t meet with Kue because he didn’t like who was sent to summon him.  It all seems very immature and childish to me– by both sides.  These are grown men and professionals that spend more time with each other than their own families– yet, they can’t sit down and talk for ten minutes? I certainly don’t hate Rip, in fact I’ve written extensively in my own blog about how much love I have for him.  My comparison between Rip and Zeke was made to illustrate how ugly endings often leave the most lasting impact on public perception.  

I’ll always remember Isiah’s glory days, his unbelievable talent and will.  But, the image that will forever be seared into my consciousness is how the Pistons ship began to sink, the Bad Boys-era doomed to enter Davy Jones’ locker, and how its captain tried to take everyone down with him.  Thomas alienated his owner (who viewed him as a son), his teammates (whom he had gone to war with countless times), and fans that were not of the casual variety.  He seemed unwilling to help teach or develop younger players (I know, not his job, but imperative to the team’s transition, and frankly, a nice thing to do), caught up in the past and self-entitlement.  Don’t you think it’s strange that Zeke retired unceremoniously and without much fanfare by the organization?  It’s greatest player ever?  

To me, there are some parallels here.  Rip, for all his service and triumphs with Detroit, is burning a similar brand into my mind’s eye.  He clearly wants no part of this rebuilding effort, and seems to only care about how he can be better served and not how he can better serve the team.  All the b.s. about starting/not starting– who cares, you make millions upon millions to do what the club asks of you!  Disrespect? Which part is more disrespectful, Rip, the part when they gave you a 3 yr/$30 + million extension, or when you were given countless opportunities to earn a spot in the starting lineup and then eventually the rotation even when you were clearly the worst option?  Rip feels entitled due to past glories and cannot handle the truth that he has lost his mojo, and, whatever you say about it, has handled it like a baby.  (Where is Rip, by the way?  At home with the flu?  For over a week???)  

I don’t think he’s handled it gracefully, as you insist–not horribly, but certainly not gracefully.  And I also question whether or not he has said anything negative about his coach, g.m., or organization publicly.  Look, Rip is not Rasheed Wallace–he’s not going to hit you over the head with his opinions.  He is, however, a master at shooting thinly-veiled darts through the media dating back to the Curry/Iverson fiasco.  Class, to me, is not pouting about minutes or being removed from the rotation.  Dignity is excepting your limitations and having respect for yourself and for your teammates.  Like it or not, this ugly divorce will be the lasting memory many Pistons observers will have of one of our all-time greats.

And you’re absolutely right about all of this being based on hearsay.  All of this is based on hearsay–even the Feldman/Langlois report.  Everything that we cyber-commentators write is based on hearsay.  None of us (except Langlois, in this case) are in that locker room, or on the team plane, or at practices or hotels with these guys.  We can only form our opinions based on the limited and filtered information that trickles down to us.  Every one of these comments is based on speculation– but that’s what makes it fun!  We are the Sports Illustrated/ESPN equivalents to the People Magazine/TMZ crowd.

By Andy Fung
February 2, 2011

1 comment:

  1. I agree the speculation is fun, so much of the overall fun of sports is speculation roll with it.