'A Business Trip'

Joe D sees value to Pistons in London trip, reflects on NBA's growth

This trip to London is all business for Joe Dumars.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
Joe Dumars has been to London before, more than once. He appreciates that many in the Pistons’ traveling party have been a little wide-eyed at seeing in person such iconic places as Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London they’ve seen all their lives through pictures or video. But he hasn’t done much of the typical tourism thing since the Pistons touched down Tuesday morning.

“I just haven’t had a chance,” he said Thursday morning as the Pistons went through their paces at shootaround in preparation for the 8 p.m. London time tipoff – 3 p.m. back in Detroit – against the New York Knicks. “I’ve been busy since I’ve been here. I’ve been to London quite a bit over the years. I’ve done all the sightseeing. On the customs card, it asks you to mark whether it’s a personal or a business trip. I checked business. This is not so much a personal trip – this is a business trip.”

And despite the logistical headaches it caused for many in the organization, Dumars thinks it’s something the team can use to its advantage.

“I think it’s been good,” he said. “What this trip did for our players, it kind of breaks up the monotony of the NBA season. It’s something different for them. We’ve practiced twice here and both practices had good spirits to them. You can tell the guys are happy, too, for it to be something different than the typical, run-of-the-mill NBA season.”

The Pistons might have wobbly legs when they land back in Detroit at mid-afternoon on Friday, but Joe D doesn’t believe the trip will have any long-lasting negative impact, either.

“We’re so used to unusual travel – West Coast trips, flying back in the middle of the night. We’re used to it. This is a little different, obviously, but I don’t think it should have much of an effect long-term. In a few days, you get back on your schedule and you’re fine. It’ll feel a lot better with a win. No matter what with the travel situation, somehow you wind up getting energy when you win games.”

It’s a long way from the NBA that Dumars broke into back in 1985 when there were 23 teams, not today’s 30, and before arenas that held 20,000 people – the arenas that inspired London to build the O2, the first of its type and size in Europe – were the standard.

“I don’t think anybody saw the NBA getting to the point that it’s at right now,” he said. “This is truly a global league and a global game. Playing a regular-season game (in London) … not a lot of leagues can do that, and that NBA is definitely one of those leagues.”

As I wrote earlier in the week, it’s fitting that the Pistons are participating in a game on the other side of the Atlantic, given their role during the transformative decade of the ’80s to spur globalization.

“This organization has been one of the key organizations over the last couple of decades,” Joe D said. “We’ve been involved in so much of the history of the last 20 years of the NBA, it’s appropriate for us to be here representing the NBA and representing all of Detroit Pistons fans.”