Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why the Detroit Pistons should leave MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo alone

You get the sense Pistons' owner Tom Gores and his "people" at The Palace don't have a real good feel for their fan base.
First, you heard rumors they were interested in Isiah Thomas to replace Joe Dumars running basketball operations (denied by The Palace). Now, USA Today floated out the Pistons will "pursue" Tom Izzo as coach.
Both ideas were widely panned on social media and sports talk radio in this town. Why? It's a sure-fire sign Gores and his "people" over at The Palace are more infatuated with big names than actually digging to find a basketball diamond in the rough to turnaround the Pistons' wayward basketball fortunes.
The best decision Izzo ever made was staying at MSU in 2010 when Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers courted him. LeBron James didn't stay, but the Cavs have had two first overall draft picks (Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennent) and Tristan Thompson since, and are still worse than the Pistons. Had he taken the Cavs' position, Izzo likely would have fired by now and be coaching at another college.
I was very harsh in my criticism of Izzo dancing with the Cavs in 2010. It was an unnecessary power grab, and a narcissistic moment from somebody whose is deservedly admired for being grounded and down to Earth.
The biggest reason why, though, dealt with the state of this state at the time, and how Izzo, among other MSU coaches in the past (most notably football coaches George Perles and Nick Saban) were constantly dancing with the pros. It hurt the collective psyche of MSU.
However, the Pistons job is in this state, and while we are are not exactly rolling, The Great Recession is over. Michigan State's athletic department has never been in better shape because of the fortunes of the football program under Mark Dantonio. As such MSU, could better absorb the loss of Izzo now than in the summer of '10.
Izzo: Such joy likely wouldn't be part of Pistons' job
If Izzo wins the NCAA title this season, he will have gotten that elusive second national championship. If he doesn't, he will be fielding a team without Adreian Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling next season, and have a program that is unlikely to take a national title run in the near future.
In other words, this would be a good time to get out, if that's what he wants.
But I've always seen Izzo as miserable as an NBA coach, especially in one of those "no win" situations, which is kind of the Pistons are right now.
I also think it would terrific if he stays at MSU for, say, 30 years overall, gets another national title or two and retires with a reputation along the lines of Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski.and John Wooden. You know, not only as one of the all-time greats, but having done it, essentially, at one school (I know Wooden and Krzyzewski did coach at other schools).
I hear people talk all the time about all the great things Izzo has done for MSU, and it's true. But it's a two-way street. Look at all the great things MSU has done for Tom Izzo. He was given a chance a long time ago, he wouldn't have gotten at other places. He has gone beyond making the most of that situation, but the opportunity likely wouldn't have been nearly the same at other schools, either.
It'd be nice if that two-lane highway to success remained opened, rather than Izzo going to career road block in Auburn Hills, where they need to figure out the real way to get remove themselves from the jam.

My column. Why, despite it all, the Tigers are still capable of winning the World Series this season:

My column: Playoff run, by Red Wings emergence of Gustav Nyquist, no coincidence:


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