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Public Papers - 1990 - June

Remarks Congratulating the Detroit Pistons on Winning the National Basketball Association Championship

1990-06-21

The President. Well, thank you all very much. Deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would say. [Laughter] To the Members of the Senate -- both Senators -- and several Members of the House delegation from Michigan, welcome to the steamy Rose Garden. There hasn't been so much excitement around here since Michael Jackson swung out through that door a while back. But I want to welcome you all back and to say to the deputy commissioner here, Russ Granik, and all distinguished guests, welcome to the White House. Bill Davidson and General Manager McCloskey and, of course, Coach Daly and all the proud members of the Pistons, we're very proud of you. I'm delighted to welcome all of you here to the Rose Garden to join in honoring the world champion Detroit Pistons on this repeat performance.

I know that -- one serious note -- that it is a bitter-sweet victory for one member of the Pistons team -- I should say the Pistons family. And I'm talking about Joe Dumars. And our hearts go out to you and to your family on your loss. And all of us admire the strength and the dignity that you displayed these last very difficult weeks.

You know, today is a proud day for the Pistons; it's one for the record books. You've become only the third team in pro basketball history to win the NBA championship back to back. First the Celtics, then the Lakers, and now the Detroit Pistons. And each great team has a trademark style, the Pistons being no exception. The style starts with Chuck Daly, voted Coach of the Year by Gentlemen's Quarterly -- [laughter] -- who knows it's not just how you play, it's how you look. How he made it some of us don't know. But anyway -- [laughter] -- --

In Detroit, it's defense, the take-no-prisoners, wall-to-wall pressure that held Pistons' opponents under 100 points for 44 times this season and 13 of the 20 games in the playoffs. And the key is to keep that focus, play with the same intensity for the full 48 minutes. And that's the Pistons' brand of basketball that has captivated the hearts of this country. Take the fifth and final game. The Trailblazers had a tough team. They played the Pistons dead-even all game long -- 47 minutes, 59.3 seconds to be exact. Good, but not good enough. And in the last, seven-tenths of a second, Vinnie Johnson nailed a jumper, and the Pistons nailed another championship banner to the rafters in the Palace.

And on a team with this tremendous talent, it's no surprise to find some of pro basketball's very best. I should start, I guess, with everybody's MVP, Isiah Thomas, the kind of guy who gets lost in a crowd until you toss in a basketball out there. And his game goes into overdrive in the playoffs. Listen to these stats: In the last 7 minutes of game 1, Isiah scored 16 points. Or game 4 -- 30 points in the second half. And of course, the final, last Thursday night, Isiah led the way with a team-high 29 points. That concludes today's reading from Isiah. [Laughter]

Detroit got championship-level play all series long, all season long, from every member of the team. Instant offense from Mark Aguirre, Joe Dumars. Aggressive -- I see their families are here. [Laughter] Aggressive defense from John Sally and the NBA's number one defensive player, Dennis Rodman. And there's the front court -- James Edwards and, of course, my old friend, Mr. Congeniality over here, Bill Laimbeer. [Laughter] James' nickname may be Buddha, but I know no one is ever going to call Bill Laimbeer Gandhi. [Laughter] Kinder and gentler maybe, but not peaceful.

In any event, key contributions along the way from Jerome Henderson and Scott Hastings, David Greenwood, William Bedford, all under the guidance of the great coach, Coach Daly, and his topnotch staff. There may be 5 men out there on the court, but no one knows better than this proud Piston team that it takes a 12-man effort and more to bring home the title 2 years in a row.

So, I want to welcome you here today, welcome you back, true champions that you are. Once again, my sincere congratulations to you, to the city of Detroit, the home of the world champion Pistons. Maybe I'll see you next year, too.

Thank you all very much.

Isiah Thomas. As they said in ``Poltergeist,'' ``We're back!'' [Laughter]

On behalf of the Detroit Pistons -- well, let me say one other thing. Vice President Quayle, sir, you've come to see us play twice. [Laughter] The first time was in Indiana, and I think we ended up losing by about, what was it, 30 that night? It was the worst game we played all season. So, we're happy and everything that he's going to come and watch us play again in Detroit. So, he comes to the final game, and that's the only game we lose in the finals. [Laughter] We lose it in overtime. Thanks for all your support. [Laughter]

Now, on behalf of the Detroit Pistons, my teammates, the whole organization, we again would like to present President Bush with a Piston jersey. And even though we may be number one, he's also number one. Thank you.

The President. Thank you very much. Thank all of you guys.

Note: The President spoke at 2:17 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Russ Granik, executive vice president of the National Basketball Association, and William Davidson and Jack McCloskey, managing partner and general manager of the Detroit Pistons, respectively.

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