Let me re-set the stage from LA. 2003 and the Lakers get Malone and Payton. Everyone including me is saying championship. My only reservation is those guys are old. The Lakers go 18-4 to start. Championship. Only age could beat them... Fast forward. SA is a Laker stumbling block and win the first two. Phil gets in gear and keeps Parker out of the lane. Lakers take SA four straight. Minn. is a false challenge. I tell Laker fans they are in. Meanwhile, the Pistons pick up Sheed. I thought, Wow. Finally the Pistons get a player instead of losing them. The Pistons struggle with the Pacers but pull through. Malone tells media it isn't over yet after beating Minn. but you know everyone is thinking it is over. Laker fans come to me. All I say is that it won't be a walkover. But I don't see the Pistons getting enough offense to win. Then, an incredible moment in sports. Pistons win the first game. Shaq gets what he wants but the Pistons win. Larry exclaims, "We can get any shot we want." Lakers still confident. Pistons let Shaq tire himself out and contain Kobe. Ben is a monster. People tell me no wonder you talk about that guy. Pistons have the second game won when Kobe hits the shot. Kobe to press: Don't worry, I will take care of things. The world has re-aligned. Back to 1-1. I begin to believe that the Pistons are a better team. Dare I believe that? I mean, we had the game won. Pistons blow out Lakers and win the series. The Lakers start to argue immediately. The Laker brass take the loss to mean something is seriously wrong with the team. No one can conceptualize out here that they just got beat by a newly dominant team. The Lakers deal Shaq to an incredulous Riley without getting Wade to keep the younger Kobe. Nobody here still gets that the Pistons were plain that good. MY first thought is just when the Pistons become dominant--now they will have to face Shaq. Also, the Lakers are done. The media PR machine pumps up the Lakers but I know they are done. The Pistons go on the next year to again make Shaq sit early but blow the championship due to scheduling, etc. The Lakers-- only by the end of the year-- realize that they are in a re-build mold and how good the Pistons really were. The PR machine can't any longer make fans forget Shaq for Odom. Some are starting to ask: why didn't we get Wade? Lakers are relieved when Pistons deny Shaq. Riley says that the Pistons are a unique team and totally re-builds. After an incredibly dominant first half, the Pistons implode. The Lakers are still nowhere with no cap room and paying luxery tax. Shaq gets his revenge and my fears are realized. The Lakers own imploding (Shaq to Miami) costs the Pistons a free run through the east. Now it is the Pistons who implode and Ben is let go and the Pistons run looks prematurely curtailed. How ironic. The Pistons take down the Lakers who explode and lose Shaq. The Pistons go down two years later when unable to get by that same Shaq. What do others see? If Shaq stays where he was suppose to, Ben would still be here with the Pistons and people would be talking dynasty for both teams. Miami would be nothing. The ball bounces strangely in the NBA these days. I wasn't on the boards. What were people thinking in Detroit at the time?