Yep. You thought the NBA was a money league. That players rule the roost, money from bloated contracts and endorsement deals are the grease that lubricates the machine. Heck, you'd give your left eyeball (assuming you still have it) as collateral on a bet that in the post-Jordan era more than ever, it's all about Benjamins and less about pride or character. And then along comes the Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons to shatter your precious illusions. Pride and respect for the game is alive and well. Deal with it. And get my man Ben Wallace a shoe deal for the love of Pete. Forbes magazine recently published another of their famous "lists". Like any good basketball list, the Pistons are well represented and there is room for controversy. List? What list? Using the last 3 seasons game statistics, a performance/salary matrix was created by the sports hacks at Forbes. The list includes the top 100 highest paid players in the Association based upon 2006 salary (the current 05/06 season). *Link* My Dawgs Chauncey "MVP should be" Billups comes it at #1, followed by Big Ben at #17, RipCity Hamilton at #18, with Sheed's 'Ships pulling up the Pistons rearguard at #30. McNice didn't make this list because his salary falls just outside the league top 100. For 2005/6 salary purposes, The Palace Prince is a pauper and far below the top 100 threshold. The 4 Pistons making the list are underpaid by league standards which boosts their placement in these rankings. The list does NOT indicate talent or productivity straight up. Fuzzy Math The list includes ZERO information on what specific data they used, or how they weighted it. It's irresponsible to spoon feed hard data without qualifying how it was done. [floatl]http://img453.imageshack.us/img453/7827/jkidd0205061zb.jpg[/floatl] The author flaunts that Jermaine O'Neal and Jason Kidd are overpaid, yet they both put up significant numbers as team leaders, and enjoyed trips to the playoffs over the 3 year period used in the ratings. That is why this list should not be taken as gospel. Although sketchy due to the lack of detail behind the rating system, the Forbes list does highlight the Pistons' play for pay scheme. Beaten black and blue Detroit's 4 highest paid players all make the top 100 salaries. The team total payroll ranks approximately 17th in the league. Add in the additional factors of zero debt ownership and fanatically high attendance, Joe Dumars has taken what was a 5th place division finish team to absolute league dominance in only 3 years. You see, the Pistons don't just beat you on the court, they'll dominate your front office and owner as well. I mean really, how many other GMs could beat JD at a game of horse? Paxson? Ainge? Vandeweghe? I don't think so. Even the older, rounder Joe D. would take those has-beens to school. And no one wants to mess with Bill Davidson. Not even hyper-aggressive Dan Gilbert, the child prodigy owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Once a Lion, always a Lion. Bill D. chews up competitors and spits them out without conscience. From marketing to community involvement, man defense to cleaning the glass, The Franchise exudes class, hard work and distinguishes itself as a blue collar "team for the people". Click below for Page 2 [break] The "Rub" Currently at 39-7, playing some of the best regular season basketball in the last decade, these Pistons will be expensive when it comes time to pow wow new deals with Joe Dumars. The Franchise has a disparity (when compared to the rest of the league) between performance and salary. The Pistons are playing for pay in a league based upon the "pay for play" philosophy. Take Tayshaun Prince, who recently re-upped for 5 years at $48 million dollars, putting his 06/07 salary somewhere in the 7.9 million dollar range. Now that the Palace Prince qualifies for the list, will his statistical and playoff performance jive with his new wage? Not unless the playoffs are heavily weighted in the performance areas. TP's not a big stats guy. [floatr]http://img380.imageshack.us/img380/9493/chaunceybillups0205066il.jpg[/floatr]The dubious distinction of #1 on the Forbes list belongs to Chauncey Billups. This season the Pistons' #1 is enjoying increased statistical output, a greater win share, and potentially a very deep playoff run. Heck, he'd be the MVP if the media didn't discount how good this team is and use that against him. There's just no love for the working man. Sheed's ranking on these types of lists will increase after this renaissance year as his contract only increases marginally in value. A lot more play, a little more pay. It's a formula fans and ownership alike can love. Looking ahead, how will Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace rate on this type of list when new and more lucrative deals are struck? What about the future of Darko Milicic, due to earn a minimum of $6.8 million 18 months from now unless the Pistons completely abandon his rights? Trample the weak [floatl]http://img380.imageshack.us/img380/7333/dumars0205064rp.jpg[/floatl] It could be a fall from the grace if fiscal restraint overrides the desire to be a year in and year out winner. The Pistons continue to rely heavily on it's most valuable member working wizardry in trades and free agency. That is because... Joe's in control. By resurrecting careers and providing a team oriented atmosphere, JD's built a clubhouse that not only wants to play for pay, it's a room that is unfriendly to the influence of money grubbing agents. The players are sold on the organization, the mission and the lure of immortality. You gotta believe he's wearing those championship rings (all 3) each time he sits down to talk dollars and cents. Hell, he probably borrows Bill Laimbeer's Shock Championship ring too. He's legendary enough to pull a stunt like that. Joe adds players who fit his plan, not accommodating ANY individual agendas. You want more playing time, think you have a big pay day coming? "Where can we trade you to?" is the likely refrain. Just ask Jerry Stackhouse, one of the true blue collar Pistons from the early "Goin' to Work" era who developed delusions of grandeur and a misplaced sense of importance. I still love Stack , one of the toughest SOBs to ever wear teal... Unable to turn up executive salary information, I feel safe saying that the most valuable Piston is Joe Dumars. No other GM in recent history has kept a core of 5 All-Star caliber players together as long as Gentleman Joe while keeping the bean counters on his good side. And no other member of this franchise has been so consistently productive at his job. Information for this article was gathered from Forbes Online and other sources.