A prince among men (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday November 21, 2007 2:19PM; Updated: Wednesday November 21, 2007 2:19PM
It goes back to the decision by Pistons' president Joe Dumars to use the No. 23 pick in the 2002 draft on the then- skinny senior from Kentucky. "I'll never forget interviewing him with Joe in Joe's office," says Pistons VP John Hammond. "Tayshaun has this habit where he turns to the side a little bit and points his shoulder at you when he speaks. And we could barely hear him. Joe and I were laughing about it afterwards; we're both leaning over the table trying to hear what he was saying."
That early impression was deceiving. Though he looks a frail 215 pounds at 6-9, Prince hasn't missed a game over the last four years while emerging as one of the league's toughest defenders. He doesn't demand shots, but in the crunch he often has the ball in his hands to make a big play. He is the only Pistons' starter to never make the All-Star team -- but would the Pistons have made the last five Eastern conference finals without him?
This season Prince is averaging career-highs of 15.7 points, 52.1 percent shooting and 6.0 rebounds a game as the Pistons begin to prepare for challenges in the spring from the reinvented Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic. "The East is getting better and more well-rounded," he says. "What has to be understood now is that this is an opportunity for us to really be inspired. This has to be a boost in our confidence to know that they're trying to get to where we're at."
The Pistons have struggled to a 6-4 start, but first impressions of their record are as misleading as those of Prince. And in fact, playing the underdog might be of great assistance, as they need to build their inspiration toward May and June instead of depleting themselves in the conference finals, as they've done the past two seasons.
While those challenges await Prince and his teammates, Wednesday night, they will be focused on the struggles facing the children who will be the stars of the evening. Though Prince and his wife of two years do not yet have kids of their own, they will be serving as benefactors to hundreds of children who desperately need help of every kind.
"For the parents to see their kids so happy, they couldn't be more grateful," says Good. "I went to the Pistons' home opener with them, and they were all caught up in the night. But then every single child came up to me that night to say what we should do to thank Tayshaun and his wife. They were talking about making scrapbooks, they wanted to sign posters. The kids had all of these ideas about how they wanted to give back for what was being done for them, and I thought that was very consistent with the altruistic spirit that Tayshaun and his wife have been showing by doing this."
For more information on Kids Kicking Cancer, please their Web site, kidskickingcancer.net
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