Joe Dumars III (born May 24, 1963, at Shreveport, Louisiana).
Dumars was drafted at number 18 of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, the team that he played for his whole NBA career. If I had to describe Dumars with one word, I would choose; tough. This is what Dumars was; a tough player, a player that was ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done in both ends of the floor, but what distinguished him from the rest of the tough guys of the NBA is that he was never considered as such. He was the gentle guy in a bad-boys team. He played tough within the limits of the game and that is why he was widely respected. He possessed a great knowledge of the game and he was able to turn his disadvantages into advantages. He helped the Pistons win two NBA titles in row, one of them in the 90s, while winning the NBA Finals MVP award in 1989. But, all of us that had the opportunity to watch him play will always remember the way he guarded MJ in the legendary Pistons-Bulls rivalry (1,2).
Dumars joined a mediocre Pistons’ team that under the guidance of Chuck Daily was collecting the right pieces to become a legendary NBA team. Dumars had a good, but not a special, year as a rookie and was selected in the all-rookie team of 1986. He increased his scoring averages in each of the following years in the 80s and alongside Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguire, Rick Mahorn, James Edwards, John Salley, and Vinnie Johnson formed Detroit’s Bad Boys that played in two NBA Finals (1988, 1989) during the 80s winning one of them (1989); 4-0 against the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1989 he was recognized as the MVP of the NBA Finals with 27.3ppg., 1.8rpg. and 6apg.
In the first year of the 90s Pistons were the favourites to win the title again and Dumars was already recognized and accepted as a centre piece of the team, even though Isiah Thomas was considered the superstar of the team. In the two previous seasons Pistons had eliminated in the play-offs the young and emerging central-division rivals Chicago Bulls. Their rivalry reached another level as the Bulls accused the Pistons of employing a defensive strategy that has been known as the “Jordan Rules” to defeat them. This higher level of rivalry made the 1989-90 season really interesting. Joe Dumars did his job as usual, scoring 17.8ppg. in the regular season, while making his first appearance in an all-star game, as a reserve for the Eastern Conference. He was also selected as a member of the NBA’s all-defensive team for the second consecutive time in his career.
During, the play-offs he played again according to his standards scoring 18.2ppg., while providing first-class defending for his team. The Pistons beat the Bulls again 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Dumars was the man that was guarding MJ and at the same time he was the first scorer of his team in the series with 20ppg. Pistons advanced to the NBA Finals and won their second consecutive title by defeating Portland Trail Blazers 4-1. Dumars guarded the arguably second-best shooting guard of the 90s, Clyde Drexler, and posted some great numbers in the offense as well with 20.6ppg. and 5.6apg.
Next year Dumars led the Pistons in scoring with 20.4ppg. in the regular season and in the play-offs with 20.6ppg. But this was the last time that Dumars was going to go so far in the play-offs. Pistons lost 4-0 to their rivals Bulls in Eastern Conference Finals and this was the beginning of the end for Detroit’s Bad Boys. Later, after the end of his career as a player, Dumars, as the president of basketball operations at the Pistons’ organization was able to create a second version of the Bad Boys that won an NBA title in 2004 and had several good years as a top team in the Eastern Conference.
Dumars led the Pistons in scoring in the next three years (1992, 1993, 1994), with 1993 being his best ever season in terms of point per game: 23.5ppg. He appeared in 6 all-star games for the Eastern Conference, 5 of them in a raw (1990-1995) and the other one in 1997. He was a starter only in 1991. He was a member of the NBA All-Defensive team 3 times (1990, 1992, 1993) and one time he was included in NBA’s second All-Defensive team (1991). He was a member of the NBA’s second All-NBA team in 1993 and was voted two times in NBA’s third All-NBA team (1990, 1991).
In the summer of 1994 he participated in the World Basketball Championship as a member of Dream Team II. Since, the arrival of Grant Hill at the 1994-95 season he took a second role in the team behind the young star. From 1996 until the end of his career at 1999 he also played some point guard in a Piston’s starting line-up that included Allan Houston or Jerry Stackhouse at the two-spot. Dumars will always be remembered as the best defender that MJ has ever faced, according to MJ’s words. But, he was far more than just a good defender, his career numbers show that he was a great offensive player as well as a great facilitator. Dumars was a real combo-guard that could play both guard positions efficiently.