Detroit Swapped Basketball for Football

Wasn’t it just yesterday the Detroit Lions were one of the worst teams in the last…well forever. If not the worst? Didn’t seem like it was that long ago that the Detroit Pistons were one of the most dominant teams in the NBA, if not the most dominant in the Eastern Conference. Here we are now, a couple steps down the tracks from the cross-roads where the changing of the guard between basketball royalty and football folly took place. What I’m trying to say is the Pistons got bad and the Lions good and it happened seemingly overnight.

Outside of the city of Detroit, few have taken notice of the Pistons decline. It started the day Chauncey Billups was shipped out of town. From 1983-84 to the 2008-2009 season (26 years) the Pistons had missed the playoffs only 5 times. Since Billups was traded in 2008 the Pistons have been to the post-season once, where they got swept like a broom by the Cavs.

The “re-building process” included shipping every key player from the team over the last decade aside from Tayshaun Prince. Billups, Ben Wallace (former DPOY), Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton are all gone now. Now, a team that was almost regularly competing in the NBA Finals (or at least the Eastern Conference Finals) has yet to win over 30 games since 2009.

The way that the Pistons ended their ’09 campaign, by barely squeaking into the playoffs over horrible teams in a weak conference and getting swept in the first round, was like an exact reflection of opposition in the way the Detroit Lions ended their 2010 season.

Many people saw the Lions as a team on the rise even after losing a bunch of games. What observers noticed was the way they seemed to improve even with a back-up QB for most of the season. One year later, by way of a healthy quarterback Matthew Staffords arm, the Lions were back to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

The Lions sudden winning ways could be short-lived and the actual ceiling of their progression unknown, however, fans choose to be optimistic about their teams potential. After your QB throws for 5,000+ yards, what’s not to like? Since 2009 the Pistons overall attedance per season has dropped by nearly 100,000 each year. Meanwhile, the Lions attendance has been soaring at a rate of nearly 50,000 a year.

Both franchises have enjoyed the success of many individuals’ hall of fame careers. But, the Lions have never enjoyed the success of winning like the Pistons. From Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars to Chauncey Billups, the basketball Pistons’ 20+ years of success seems as if its coming to a screeching hault, while the football Lions may just be getting started.

Notes: Forward-Center Ben Wallace left after 2006 for Cleveland but returned to the team in 2009-present. He is 37 years old.