The Detroit Pistons assembled one of the best defensive teams in NBA history in the 2000s, putting together a series of players who weren't the flashiest stars of all but knew their role and did it very well. The president of basketball operations and general manager Joe Dumars pulled off some big moves to create a terrific team that shocked the world.
In the 2003/04 NBA season, nobody thought the Pistons would be good enough to challenge for a title, but they made it to the biggest series of all quietly, just doing their thing and winning round after round. Once they landed in the Finals, things got even harder for them, as the overpowered Los Angeles Lakers looked like clear favorites to win it all.
Nevertheless, that didn't matter for the Pistons, who played their game, shut down the Lakers, and won another championship. They had Chauncey Billups as the Finals MVP, but the team had more figures that took it to the top of the league. During a recent appearance on The Crossover podcast, Joe Dumars talked about his best trade while he was with the Pistons.
First, he went with one of the most controversial moves of that season turned out to be his favorite. When the Pistons traded for Rasheed Wallace, they signed their names on the list of candidates to win the championship (36:17).
"It was the most significant move, because he actually got us over the top. I don't think we could over the top without him. I think we're good, we're Conference Finals level, but you need something to get you over the top and he was the guy to do that. And so, it was the most significant move. Anytime you make a move in the middle of the season, and that get you over the top to win a championship, that has to be your most significant. You have to be willing to take swings, you have to be comfortable with being an outlined. I was always comfortable with that, I was always comfortable with taking swings, and I was comfortable being outlined in the sense that we weren't trying to build the roster like everyone else. We were trying to build a completely different type of roster than everyone else and that worked for us; we won a title, and we had success with it."
Dumars mainly focused on the Rasheed Wallace trade but also gave flowers to the other Wallace on the team, Ben, who landed in Detroit in exchange for Grant Hill. Dumars said that they both made the Pistons a championship-caliber squad.
"I just thought that they complemented each other greatly. Ben was great before he went there, let's not forget that. He was a Defensive Player of the Year and he was a dominant defender, but I do think that he and Rasheed together give you the chance to win the title, which they did. Those two planned exceptionally well together."
These two were something great for the Pistons, who went to back-to-back Finals in 2004 and 2005. They only won one championship and never made it to the big series again. While they made some good decisions, others hurt their chances to be more dangerous to the rest of the league. Still, nobody can take anything away from them, especially that incredible title in 2004.