Yesterday, the Pistons staged a “sleep-in protest” of John Kuester, with five pistons skipping practice. Kuester responded by benching those players for last night’s game against the Sixers, and wound up playing just six players. In a shocker, the Pistons lost by a healthy margin. But that wasn’t the surprising part. Kuester was ejected from the game for arguing with officials. And the Pistons who were benched, including Tracy McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Wallace, and Austin Daye showed the proper respect for such a thing happening to their coach in his hometown in front of his daughter. By laughing. Check out the video.
Not cool, Pistons.
But that’s not all. ESPN reports that the players’ had organized such a move before the All-Star break, but were persuaded not to by assurances Kuester would be fired over the break. After he was not fired, Rip Hamilton not traded and denied a buyout opportunity, the players were moved to go through with whatever they thought yesterday would accomplish. The result is about as close to a mutiny as you’re going to find.
The players’ biggest mistake here was surrendering the high ground publicly. Kuester’s a losing coach who obviously has lost the team. Simply following that line to its natural end would remove him. Even going to the media would have resulted in a better result than yesterday’s fiasco. Because now the media and fans will turn on you. They’ll abide discontent, they won’t abide quitting. If the players were avoiding the press for fear of a fine, that was a pointless pursuit because they’re sure going to be fined or suspended now.
Kuester has not been a good coach in Detroit, but the players shouldn’t have done this. It does make you wonder, though, what would drive a group of veterans, who, whatever their reputations, have always shown up to work, to take such drastic measures. As executive management, Joe Dumars has to punish the players. But he’s also got to look to the source of such behavior.
The only real victims here are Pistons fans.