Mission: Win Back Fans

In Frank’s first Palace game, he hopes Pistons give fans reason to return

The Pistons can reconnect with its vocal fanbase this season.
D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Lawrence Frank never wants the focus to be on him, so ask him what significance he finds in the fact that he will take The Palace court tonight for the first time as Pistons coach and he says this: “There are a couple of things significant about it. One is I have great respect for the this franchise and the history of the franchise.

“But I think it’s the first step in what one of our missions is: to win the fans back of the city and the surrounding areas. It’s going to be on us. It’s on our plate. We’ve got to give the fans a reason to come and watch us and it’s going to start with how we play, how we conduct ourselves both on and off the court, giving them a brand of an exciting, hard-nosed, defense-first, unselfish approach. So this is the first step and we’ve got to earn it.”

It’s not a message Frank has felt the need to deliver to the team in such a direct manner, but it’s one they’ve essentially been living and breathing since training camp opened a week ago. Frank’s daily drumbeat is about playing hard, playing together, playing for and trusting one another.

“I don’t even need to talk to our team about it,” he said. “Because we all realize it’s on us to bring them back. It’s not on them to come back. It’s on us to give them a reason to come back.”

Frank recalled the apathy of the New Jersey Nets fan base – an organization that doesn’t have the history of the Pistons, whose three NBA titles are three more than the Nets have amassed – when he first landed there.

“When I was in New Jersey for opening night of the first year we went to the (2002 NBA Finals), we drew 5,700,” he said. “But we gave them a reason to come back and that’s something we’ve got to do here.”

  • Frank’s starting lineup will include one surprise: Damien Wilkins, a camp invitee hoping to earl a roster spot, will be the small forward. Greg Monroe, Ben Gordon, Will Bynum and Charlie Villanueva will round out the starting five, but draw no conclusions from that, Frank said.

    “Don’t read too much into anything,” he said. “There will be a different starting lineup on Tuesday (when the Pistons wrap up the two-game preseason at Cleveland). That’s just the lineup we’re going to start today.”

    No one will be held out, Frank said.