A few days ago, Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom sat down with Hall-of-Fame-bound and longtime Pistons owner Bill Davidson and discussed a variety of subjects. Davidson, 85, has long been an intensely private individual, in fact, Albom mentioned that this hour-long conversation was their first of any great length through all these years. The topics ranged from Isiah Thomas to refs to players to coaches.
Coaches, that's where Davidson talked about something Mavs fans might find interesting -- Rick Carlisle. Carlisle took over a bad Pistons team before the 2001-02 season and immediately turned the franchise around. In his two short seasons there, Carlisle led Detroit to the Eastern Conference finals. But he was fired and replaced with Larry Brown.
Here's Albom's questions and Davidson's answers about Carlisle's stint as head coach of the Detroit Pistons. At this point in the conversation, Albom was asking if firing coaches was solely Davidson's decision or general manager Joe Dumar's decision. Davidson basically said it was both through discussions with Davidson formulating his own reasoning while also leaning on Dumars' basketball knowledge.
Q: Rick Carlisle -- was that your call? Or had he lost the players?
A: Yeah, he had lost the players. He had a certain style, which wore off after a certain amount of time. But he was a good coach, on kind of a short-term basis. He knows the game, did all the right things, but he didn't have that personal touch with players.
Q: The whispers were that you didn't like his style or personality.
A: No, definitely not true.
Q: He wasn't fired because he had words with members of your staff?
Q: Why was he fired?
A: Players. A player will never come out and say it, but because I'm close to them, I know what they're thinking.
Q: So you can tell when the coach has lost the players just by talking with the players?
A: No, it comes back around. Somebody will say something to somebody, and then that person will say something to me. And if that happens enough times, then you realize what it is.
-- Jeff Caplan