700 and Counting

Tayshaun Prince’s longevity furthers his place in Pistons history

Tayshaun Prince is climbing the chart on the list of all-time games played as a Piston.
J. Dennis/Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Tayshaun Prince still has a lot of basketball left to play, but when a player passes a milestone like Tayshaun did when the Pistons beat Toronto at The Palace the other night – playing in his 700th game – it always makes you pause and reflect on what his career has meant.

Our fans should always remember Tayshaun as a winner and what I would call a pro’s pro. If you don’t like Tayshaun Prince’s game, you don’t like basketball. He’s such a great all-around player. He does plenty of big things and all the little things. He shows up every night. Not only is he there, but he performs – and as evidenced by the game-winning shot against the Hawks the other night, he performs in the clutch. Big moments don’t make him back down. Big moments are the moments he most enjoys.

I heard Lawrence Frank the other night say two things you always have to consider about players are availability and reliability. I couldn’t agree more. Short of a serious injury, Tayshaun is going to play. He plays with great effort and intelligence. He knows he’s got great length and he uses it. He seems to have a great understanding of the game, such a great feel for basketball. He plays makes that sometimes you don’t think are available to be made.

You’ve got to love him on either end of the alley oop – that says something right there. You can throw the ball up to him and of course he’ll go get it and throw it down, but add to that the fact he and Brandon Knight have a little hookup going on right now where he’s the assist man, too.

We all will forever remember the block on Reggie Miller in the championship season. It’s not just that he can run down guys and block shots – he is an excellent defender. There are guys who have been known just for defense that aren’t any better defenders than Tayshaun Prince, but he’s a guy who can play the entire game and the entire floor.

The first thing I really noticed about Tayshaun was that he would fill up a stat sheet. He’d fill it up in different ways on different days. If you needed rebounds, he’d have ’em. If you needed assists, he’s have ’em. His scoring was there when it was needed and clearly there were going to be steals and blocked shots – just don’t expect many numbers in the turnovers column.

The question was raised a long time ago and it’s been answered a hundredfold since: Is he too thin to play in the NBA? But I saw him play against a very good Michigan State team in the Breslin Center one year when I was broadcasting both the Spartans and the Pistons and you know how physical Tom Izzo’s teams play. Tayshaun was every bit strong enough to play there and he’s proven he’s every bit strong enough to play at this level. He’s wiry strong and mentally very tough.

In all my 36 years as the voice of the Pistons, I’d have to say he’s one of my favorite guys to be around, too. He may, at times, be a man of few words, but he’s a very genuine person, a very intelligent person and a very friendly guy. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team. If anybody wondered why Joe Dumars signed him to a four-year contract, my question would be, “Wouldn’t you be shocked if he didn’t want to keep him?”

The only question was if Tayshaun wanted to go somewhere else and chase an immediate championship. Heck, the way the Pistons are playing now, he could have another chance here before his contract is up. He’s a guy you want around. I thought he was our best player last year, he might be our best player this year and not signing him would have been the mistake.

It’s amazing when you think of how many games Tayshaun has played in and how many more he could potentially play in. There are only five names ahead of him – Joe D, Isiah, Bill Laimbeer and Mr. 007 himself, Vinnie Johnson, plus Lindsey Hunter, and Tayshaun will pass Lindsey on this road trip. Lindsey’s an NBA champion and there will be only NBA champions in front of him on the Pistons’ all-time games played list. The bottom line is Tayshaun Prince is a champion.