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The Wizards-Pistons Experience from Detroit

This was not exactly seeing Favre at Lambeau, but I made a trip to the Palace at Auburn Hills for tonight's game. Mike covered most of the finer points of the game, so I will stick mostly to the Wizards fan experience.

I was staying in Ann Arbor  for the weekend, and figured that after dropping a couple friends off at the Detroit airport, would have an easy drive to The Palace. Not true. The title of this article is misleading because The Palace is in Auburn Hills, which is a solid 50 miles(!) outside of Detroit - think Baltimore Orioles distance from DC. I thought Auburn Hills might be a nice town, but the location reminded me of US Air Arena; there was nothing there, just a stadium waaay out in nowhere.

Getting past the location though the experience was superb and they have amazing fans. Here are the rest of my thoughts in 'now easier to read!' bullet points after the jump:

  • Maybe I'm a naive East-Coaster, but the type of people at this game was not like what we see in DC. Women were well-dressed and not light on the makeup in Detroit. There is not a lot of sun here and an orange face is not natural.
  • Our lower deck tickets were a whopping $40, awesome (parking was only $10 also). The location seemed to preclude the possibility of any scalping, as a parking light surrounded the arena. Fortunately, the Pistons' run of NBA attendance champions ended last season, which a hanging banner taught me, and there were plenty of seats available at the box office.
  • Speaking of banners, the Detroit Shock's WNBA championship banners hang right next to the NBA one's from the Pistons. This is not as bad as hanging 'WNBA attendance champions,' but come on, they could at least separate the banners. Call me sexist, but the WNBA is not anywhere near the importance of the NBA, fact.
  • The Palace was less than half full tonight, but there were times when it got pretty loud. The noise level was amazing and I can't imagine how hard that place with rock with a full house.
  • Not only were they loud, but the fans needed little scoreboard provocation to cheer. I tip my cap to you Detroit, your fans are great.
  • I think JaVale McGee had some friends in attendance, as he pointed to them after his monster putback late in the game, but my buddy and I were probably the only other Wizards fans in the arena tonight.
  • I imagine the cheap tickets attracting a more blue collar crowd has a lot to do with the fantastic noise level.
  • Or maybe it was Mason! You can't forget the Pistons PA announcer during the NBA finals a few years ago. Chauncy Bu-Bu-Bu-Billups!
  • Hearing Mason's, 'Bu-Bu-Bu-Ben Wu-Wu-Wu-Wallace' and then Hell's Bell's after Wallace scored his one and only basket was worth the price of admission.
  • Ben Wallace has his face outside the arena. They have a giant poster with 3 heads: Isiah and another Pistons legend I forgot on either side of a huge Ben Wallace head shot. He is still revered here.
  • The Pistons also have a deejay. The guy has turntables with flashing lights at the corner of the court. He not only plays the stadium music, but also helps get the crowd going. A little corny, but I liked it and it did improve the in-stadium experience.
  • They have an all obese male dancing group called the Spare Tires, who were superb. The best video I can find is of their audition, which doesn't come close to the spectacle. It was about 10 huugely fat guys in varying absurd tuxedos dancing. Hilarity ensued.
  • Halftime show was a one-armed juggler. I don't know what else to say about that.
  • JWall mostly just talked to Josh Howard during the game. I was slightly dissapointed he didn't take a greater leadership role despite being in 'street clothes'.
  • JWall was seen dancing in his seat, and another time standing behind a huddle. What can you say, the man likes to dance.
  • A nice moment was Sam Cassell running a couple seats over to Wall late in the 4th quarter to give him some coaching advice. No idea what he said, but Cassell was definitely talking to Wall about the play that had just occurred.
  • Real basketball thoughts? JaVale was great tonight. He is far from the finished article, as evidenced by 2 blocks and 3 goaltendings, but it was great to see him use that athleticism to stay involved without forcing anything.
  • Nick Young did a nice job not forcing the issue either and while spreading the floor and playing his usual great one-on-one defense. Yeah, I said it, Nick's one-on-one d is superb.
  • The Pistons were known for their excellent team defense when they were winning titles, and have the same personnel now, but had at least a couple egregious missed rotations. I know they are having some turmoil, and those lapses look like laziness for a veteran team that knows how to play defense. Those lapses do not look good for their coach and make me feel a lot better about the Wizards team defense.
  • Not to get ahead of ourselves, but the Wiz need to win games like these if they want to have any shot at the 8th seed. So what we didn't have Wall or Howard, we need to beat the East's bottom feeders.

It was a long drive 'home' after a rough ending, but the experience was great. The rest of the league could learn a lot from The Palace.