This blog will chronicle my attempt to visit all 30 NBA Arenas during the 2007-08 season.

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Contact info: Drew Cieszynski 2637 N. Frederick Ave. Apt# 106 Milwaukee, WI 53211 / 717.676.9963 / acieszyn@hotmail.com

Click below on "2007" to view the first 13 arenas.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Detroit Pistons (#27)

"Basketball Fans from around the great state of MEEEEE-chigan, and those of you at the Palace from all around the world; get up get up get up on your feet, time to meet & greet, the ballers representing the Detroit Pistons." -John Mason

Honestly, I'll admit it. When scheduling this arena tour, the Pistons were one of those games that I anticipated just fitting in to be part of the tour. I wasn't excited about this particular weekend at all. Little did I know it would prove to be my favorite stop of the tour.

After visiting Ford Field and Comerica Park a year earlier, I anticipated the Pistons arena would be in downtown Detroit as well. Unfortunately, this was FAR from the truth. Auburn Hills is a good 20 minutes outside of the city, and even stranger is that there is NOTHING around the Palace. There is a gas station and a bar across from the arena, and a McDonalds maybe 1/2 of a mile down the street, but other than that...nothingness!

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Inside, Wes and I met Ryan Pretzer where the cheerleaders were practicing warm-ups.

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Ryan took us to the atrium (a newer addition) to the Palace, where we met Dave Wieme, who would give us a tour of the Palace. In the lobby was a giant shoe; take a look:

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The first thing Dave mentions is that The Palace was built back in 1988, making it one of the older facilities in the league. He also noted that some younger child won the contest to name the arena and received free tickets for life - so if your city is building an arena, start thinking up names. Rather than selling the name of the arena to a corporation, they name different sections of the the arena for different businesses such as the Key Bank Club or the Caeser's Windsor Club.

The first thing I noticed while walking around was that the concourse and hallways were WIDE open and SPACIOUS. There wasn't that claustrophobic feel that I had in many of the other arenas around the league.

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Now I'm going to try and remember back to many of these places, so if I get anything below incorrect, shoot me an email or comment on the site.

The first of many nice restaurant/bars I saw was Club 53. This club is used for many private parties/receptions. Decorated with cherry wood and stone, a fireplace, and a round bar, this club was a very cozy setting.

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The suite of Piston's owner, William Davidson. Equipped with a sliding glass door that allows one to get away from all of the action. Not a bad view either!

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In the hallways below the seats, you see quite a bit of cable. The amount of cable is said to triple during the NBA Finals. I pray that I get to show everyone reading a photo of that cable tripling this June.

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The Key Bank Club, making you forget that you're even at a basketball game. When you go through the club, you'll see probably the best suites in the NBA. Unfortunately, there were some fans in these suites while I had the opportunity to look in and I didn't want to take a photo and disturb them.

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Some of the other suites are nothing to scoff at. While in Indianapolis, Jeff McCoy told me that I had to see the bunker suites in Detroit. The Pistons staff didn't let me down.

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A piss-poor photo, but below is the Ameriprise Financial Club and below that is the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club.

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Ryan then took us to the Food Court, which was one of the most extensive in the league, featuring a Red Bull bar, a margarita bar, and a slew of hot dog choices at the Barcardi stand. While you could choose hot dogs styled after Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami...I went with the local choice, the "Detroiter." I must add that after visiting Detroit for the 3rd time in 3 years, I've noticed that Bob's Big Boy and Little Caesar's Pizza are ridiculously popular in this area.

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Before heading to our seats, we took a look at the upper-most suites. Afraid of heights?

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From up there, I noticed the retired names/numbers printed on the court.

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I also noticed the titles and a couple sell-outs from that guy who sings about giving love a bad name.

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Before leaving the upper seats, we got to check out "Tay's Town." A suite that Tayshaun Prince purchases for small children to view the game from.

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A view of a restaurant below. One of the only shortfalls I found of this arena was the reliance of elevators on getting up and down.

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So we finally got out to our seats (right behind the Cavaliers bench).

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I thought I'd have some of the Cavalier's Gatorade before sitting down.

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When the Pistons go to and from the locker room, they go right through the fans, so we had the opportunity to get close to them.

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Scoreboard

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Now I'm sorry to those of you who have employers that won't allow you to stream video because you need to see the following YouTube video. Turn up your volume and press video to see the best player introductions in the NBA.

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Some of the lines to pay attention to:

"Out of the gritty city of Compton...Kentucky, Big Blue for you...Say Hey, to Tay-Shhhhhhaun Prince."

"The One Time Crimson Tide from Alabama...Antonio Mickity Mac Mickity mickity mickity mickity Mac Dyess."

"From the get-down playgrounds of Philadelphia...Rasheed Wallace."
listen for the crowd to start yelling "SHEED" during this part.

"From Coatsville, Rip-City, Pennsylvania... Pistons guard Richard RRRip Hamilton."

"The Captain, from the Mile High City of Denver...he wears the Pistons' 1 in the home run blue and white, tonight...the 6'3'' Chaun-cey B-B-B-B Billups.





Before I knew it, the players were lining up for the tip-off.

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Damon Jones getting Richard Hamilton off his feet.

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The Cavs struggled early & Coach Brown tried to regroup the team

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A familiar face in a new uniform.

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"Z" taking the jumper.

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At halftime, they raised a banner for retired Jack McCloskey. Speakers included Joe Dumars and Chuck Daly who you see walking right in front of us.

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Is Eric Snow hoping for some publicity?

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Pistons mascot Hooper and Mini Hooper

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Tayshaun shooting a 3 over the struggling Wally Szcerbiak.

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Chauncey gets through "Big" Ben Wallace and "Z" for the layup.

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Now easily one of the greatest memories to date. In front of a full house, also shown on the videoboard, I got to change the consecutive sellout streak sign. Also check out the video on this below.

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Photo with "Buddy The Afroman."

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Shot of the court.

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The Cavaliers came out flat & by the end of the 1st quarter it was clear that the Pistons were going to win. In fact, when Jack McCloskey spoke, the first thing he said at halftime was "Boy, We're really whipping those Cavs tonight!" The Pistons won 85-71, even with the bench playing most of the 4th.

Once the Cavaliers were finished, LeBron took a seat on the bench and I thought I'd show how I was sitting feet away.

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After the game, we were allowed to stand and watch the players sign autographs and mingle with family as they left the arena.

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Rick Mahorn

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Theo Ratliff...could be a crucial pickup for the championship run.

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Earlier I mentioned this as being one of my favorite visits, if not my favorite visit of all. Several factors played into this.

1) Kevin Grigg, Media Relations. He responded immediately to my email & ensured that I had seats for the game and free parking at the arena. I didn't have to stress about this visit at all.

2) John Mason, the PA announcer. Known most for his cry of "DEEEEE-Troit Basket-ball." He keeps everything interesting during games in "The hardest working city in the NBA."

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3) Ryan Pretzer. Of all the NBA personalities I met this year, many of them were jaded with what they were doing for a career. They forgot why they pursued a career in sports and they don't realize just how many individuals would love the opportunity to work a job in sports for just a day. Ryan was not one of these individuals. He was working his dream job and truly appreciated it.

4) Dave Wieme. He's been working for the Pistons for years now & has a wealth of stories of his interactions with former Pistons' players. He knew the team, the arena, and the culture of the organization better than most that I've met in my travels.

5) The unselfish organization. Everyone I met was willing to help me out, whether it be getting photos/video to help my blog, or helping me with my visit to one of the remaining arenas on my trip, the staff members weren't entirely consumed with themselves.

Thanks to Kevin Grigg, Dave Wieme, Joe, Ryan Pretzer, & Desi Segundo.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for leaving with such an open mind about our city and of course our Pistons. Most people are so closed minded about Detroit that almost everything good we do here is masked by something bad, and unfortunatly thats what the media picks up on usually.

Again thank you.

Anonymous said...

Auburn Hills isn't Detroit. The City of Detroit earned it's rep. I've found that most people who try to defend Detroit are from the 'burbs and never see anything past Comerica/Ford Field.

Drew Cieszynski said...

Tough guy commentor,

Yes, of course Auburn Hills isn't Detroit (mentioned that in the first few sentences) - You are correct, i haven't been in any gang fights nor witnessed any drug deals in the slums - but that doesn't mean we turn our backs on it. Every city has these problems - & only close-minded people prevent the problems from being solved

Jordan said...

Tay's Town is not just dedicated to kids, him and his wife bought the suite for the year, redecorated/upgraded it and donated it to a great charity called Kids Kicking Cancer. While a game like that would be a treat for any kid, these kids are all sick. It really is great to see how these guys all care about the surrounding area, and says a lot about Tay and his wife.

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