Dumars Pistons' real MVP

Updated: June 16, 2004, 1:02 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
"Where there is no vision, the people perish. " -- Proverbs 29:18

NBA commissioner David Stern handed Chauncey Billups the Finals MVP trophy Tuesday night after the Pistons finished beating the pulp out of the Lakers for their first NBA title in more than a decade. But let's not kid ourselves. Billups might have scored the most points. Richard Hamilton might have been the most consistent. Rasheed Wallace was the catalyst that made them believe. Ben Wallace was the heart of the team. Larry Brown brought it all together.

But Pistons president Joe Dumars was the real MVP on Tuesday night.

I've read or listened to every theory raised to explain how and why we were wrong about this year's Pistons.

The East is stronger than we thought. The West is weaker than we thought. The Lakers were distracted and not playing at full strength. The Pistons are the one and only team in the East that matched up well with the Lakers. Defense, not offense, wins championships.

In an effort to console ourselves, we'll claim the Pistons are a fluke, that they don't stack up to the great NBA champions of the past. Michael's Bulls were better. Larry's Celtics and Duncan's Spurs were, too. In fact, my guess is many of you want to put Shaq and Kobe's Lakers -- minus the version that showed up the past two seasons -- above this year's Pistons.

Don't believe it.

The Pistons are one of the great teams in recent NBA history. And Dumars, the Pistons' head man, is the guy who deserves the credit. He's a visionary who has given GMs an alternative blueprint for building a champion.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer