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04 Pistons=02 Buckeyes


I posted this at Bucknuts...thought I would post it over here as well.

I'm a sports writer for a small paper in Georgia and here is an article I wrote about the Pistons "upset" over the Lakers, comparing it to OSU's "upset" over the Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl......


The upset of the century it wasn't. Instead it was a good old-fashioned Midwestern beatdown.

The Lakers came into the 2004 NBA Championship Series with the swagger. They had Shaq, Kobe, Karl, Gary and the "Zenmaster." They had Jack, Denzell and a host of other celebrities on their side. The Pistons, on the other hand, didn't have the stars - on or off the court. They didn't need them. All they needed was a smothering defense to send the Lakers back to Tinsletown with their tails between their legs.

The Pistons domination of the Lakers in the NBA Finals came as a surprise to most people. At the same time, it eerily resembled another Midwestern teams' domination of a more flashy and unbeatable opponent, the Ohio State Buckeyes' victory against the mighty Miami Hurricanes in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

In the Fiesta Bowl, Miami's offense was supposed to be too potent. It had the stars - Ken Dorsey, Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Kellon Winslow Jr. and "the greatest offensive line in college football history." It was the team from South Beach that was supposed to blow the "Slow-hio State Buckeyes" out of Sun Devil Stadium.

What ended up happening, though, was the Buckeyes defense didn't care about the Hurricane hype. It proved to be faster than anybody gave it credit for and punched Miami in the mouth, forcing five turnovers en route to a 31-24 victory and a national championship.

These Pistons were the same way. They heard the hype. They heard about the "Big 4". They heard the comparisons of Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan. They heard the Lakers had too much firepower. But they didn't care. They also proved their defense was capable of shutting down anybody who dared to step on the floor in a Lakers uniform, showing the world they were the best team in the NBA.

Defense wasn't the only similarity. The fans helped both the Pistons and the Buckeyes to do the seemingly impossible.

The Lakers, like the Hurricanes, have a fan base largely consisting of vagabond bandwaggoners while the Buckeyes and Pistons have a diehard fanbase.

When the Buckeyes traveled to the desert in January of 2003, they brought more than 50,000 fans with them compared to 25,000 Hurricane fans. Every time the "visiting" Buckeyes made a stand on defense or got a first down, you could hear the crowd roar and the "OH-IO" chants throughout the stadium.

Although the Lakers held the overall home-court advantage, the Pistons had the edge of playing three straight games in the raucous Palace of Auburn Hills. Once the Pistons took a game from the Lakers in Los Angeles, the series was all but over. The Lakers were unable to handle the crowd noise and seemed to be rattled every time they turned the ball over and had to listen to announcer John Mason scream "Deeetroit Baaasketball" over the sound system.

Even Pistons coach Larry Brown and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel's philosophy of winning mirror each other. Both coaches rely on controlling the pace of the game, hard-nosed defense and, most importantly, teamwork.

They are both masters at preparation and breaking down film on how to beat an opponent, and they made Phil Jackson and Larry Coker, respectively, look like lost puppies in an alley full of pit bulls.

In this me-first era of sports, people will consider the Pistons and Buckeyes' championship as a fluke. But in reality it just proves the more things change, the more they say the same and that there is still no "I" in team and defense still wins championships.
Will Smith, Darrion Scott, Kenny Peterson, and Maurice Clarett didn't have Buckwheat hairdos....but Ben Wallace did.....I am glad to see a bunch of Detroit midwesterners kick some tinseltown ass.....................
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Thanks for the responses....My saying is you can take me out of Ohio State but can't take the Ohio State out of me. I'm in Thomasville Georgia, about 30 miles north of Tallahassee. My boss is actually a FSU fan, so you know he loved it too.

Somebody asked if there was a link to it, well there isn't, but feel free to copy and paste it to grassy if you want. It was published in today's Thomasville Times-Enterprise but there is no on-line link.
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I liked your article very much. I think you should write for ESPN AND USA Today, so I can read some stuff that is actually biased in our favor rather than the other, typical, way. Excellent points.

While watching the the game similar thoughts came to my mind actually, but firstly, I began thinking of the striking similarity to the Patriots who have often been compared to the Buckeyes (although, I think that the Buckeyes have way more stars than most people think).
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"I liked your article very much. I think you should write for ESPN AND USA Today, so I can read some stuff that is actually biased in our favor rather than the other, typical, way. Excellent points."

I just turned 24 and just graduated from college, so I'm kind of at the bottom right now, but hopefully someday I'll be able to join Herbie on ESPN. Truth is I'm not even an OSU grad...I applied and was accepted, and actually wanted to go there, but I had some personal reason's why I had to stay closer to home and attend the University of Akron. It ended up working out for me, but I still consider myself a Buckeye and of course rooted for the Bucks when they played the Zips and will when they meet again (is it next year?).
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SGA-Buck: Kuddos to your article and it was well written. The 5 turnovers was huge in the game which was instrumental in keeping them off balance most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters. And by that time the canes started to respect us, but it was too late.

The play that I am still upset about was when there was less than 2 minutes to go in the game and the 2 obvious holding calls plus the catch made by Gamble with both feet inboounds was the one that really could have made the difference, if they were called correctly. I still contend that if Ohio State was awarded another 1st down in that series, the clock could have been run down and there would have been no overtime, with the Buckeyes winning 17-14. I live here in Jacksonville and I still fight with the so-called cane fans in this area about that play and most of them are still in denial and do not want to admit that we were the better team. Many fans here in the south didn't give us a prayer to win the game. But we did it in glorious fashion.
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