A Piston for Any Era

Even with 2 budding young stars up front, Jason Maxiell a rock for Pistons

George Blaha holds a deep appreciation for the no-frills playing style of Jason Maxiell.
Dan Lippitt (NBAE/Getty)
Pistons fans love to talk about the budding young stars we have on our team and so do I. Who doesn’t love to watch and talk about Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, to mention just the young big guys Joe Dumars has found in the past few drafts? But there’s another player I love talking about – Jason Maxiell.

He’s one of my favorite Pistons of this era – or any era, for that matter. He would have fit right in with the Bad Boys and he did fit right in with the Goin’ to Work bunch which he joined just a year after they won the 2004 NBA title in the unforgettable “Five-Game Sweep” of the Lakers.

Jason is one of those “let our play do the talking” kind of guys. George Perles used to say, when I was broadcasting Michigan State football, “work hard, keep your mouth shut and good things will happen” and that’s what Max does. You’ve got to love him for that. He’s the kind of guy who gives you a day’s work for a day’s pay. He’s not even the least bit concerned about how many bumps and bruises he gets in doing his job.

That’s why he was able to immediately earn the respect of tough NBA veterans like Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace when he first came to the Pistons in 2005. When a young guy comes along like Jason Maxiell, who is already a grown man physically, mentally and psychologically, the vets love to see that kind of guy step on the court. There are things everybody has to work on, of course, and Dave Cowens did a spectacular job getting Jason more comfortable at the free-throw line.

If you’re going to go inside and try to score, everyone’s going to end up at the free-throw line. Jason was always a pretty good jump shooter. I don’t know why the free-throw line was a minor problem to begin with, but it isn’t any more. He goes to the line feeling like he can make it, he has a good touch and he gets it done. He’s worked on the things he’s had to work on and veterans appreciate that and they appreciate the fact he won’t back down and he keeps his cool. He knows that he has a role with this team and he’s proud to do that.

Look at our game with Orlando on Tuesday night. The 105-90 win wasn’t blown open until the third quarter when Greg and Andre came on strong, but if you don’t get nine points and eight rebounds from Jason Maxiell in the first quarter, I don’t know where you are in that game. The guards for the Magic, J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson, couldn’t miss. You were in a situation where you needed to get something done on the boards. The Pistons had four offensive rebounds in that quarter and Jason was a big part of that.

Jason Maxiell isn’t into politics in terms of personalities. He’s just his own man and everyone respects him for that. He and Lawrence Frank clicked immediately and it’s good to see Jason get major minutes. He was on his way to maybe 20 rebounds last night if they needed him to play more late in the ballgame, but he only needed to play 22, 23 minutes and still had a strong double-double.

He’s the kind of guy opposing players don’t like to play against. He doesn’t take cheap shots at anybody, but he is so physical and so relentless inside that you have to know where he is. I think he makes guys think twice about coming into the paint. He’s also a heck of a shot-blocker in addition to being a physical presence, so there are a lot of reasons to stay away from Jason Maxiell in the paint.

This is a guy who came into the league ready to go to battle. Let’s also not forget he learned some very valuable lessons from some great inside players in Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess. He fit in beautifully with those guys and he kind of carried that torch on to this group and he continues to get better and better. As good as Andre Drummond is and as great as he might be someday, Jason Maxiell is going to continue to get his minutes because he’s earned them and he deserves them.