Expect Detroit Pistons fans to cheer Tayshaun Prince wildly when he returns to The Palace of Auburn Hills Tuesday night wearing the enemy uniform.
Prince was the last member of the 2004 Pistons world title team but he was more than just a symbolic holdover. He started every game and he was a fixture in the Detroit lineup. He was easily the most popular Piston.
His departure signaled clearly that general manager Joe Dumars wanted a new identity for a franchise trying to return to those title contention days.
Prince realized why the Pistons traded him as he made a graceful departure. He was also happy, and rightfully so, that Detroit dealt him to a team that was a winner and could make some noise in the postseason. Prince played with three straight non-playoff teams in Detroit and was set for another this season prior to the deal.
Prince hasn’t missed a step with his new team. He started in 45 of the 45 Piston games he appeared and averaged 32.4 minutes per game with 11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He’s shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 79.6 percent from the line.
With the Grizzlies, he’s started five of the six games he’s appeared in with 32.4 minutes per game at 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 32 assists and is shooting 49.2 percent from the floor.
It will be an emotional day for Prince on Tuesday. He was the last true veteran hero the Pistons had. He’ll be the first to say how strange it feels to be in a different uniform inside The Palace.