OAKLAND, Calif. – Detroit Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince(notes) accepted blame for a heated exchange with head coach John Kuester during the team’s 101-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. Prince also didn’t guarantee it would be the last incident between player and coach.
“I hope it doesn’t happen again,” Prince said. “I can’t say it won’t because I’m the type of guy that if I don’t see something right, I got to say something.”
The confrontation started after Prince didn’t fight through a double screen in time to stop Warriors guard Reggie Williams(notes) from hitting a 3-pointer that put the Pistons in a 25-point hole with 4:27 left in the second quarter. Kuester called a quick timeout and voiced his displeasure to Prince, who barked back at his coach on the bench. As the argument continued, Kuester motioned for a Pistons security official to remove Prince from the bench. Kuester started to walk toward Prince, but was restrained by assistant coach Darrell Walker.
Rip Hamilton replaced Prince, who spent the remainder of the half sitting on the bench with a towel over his head.
“It’s something that happens,” Prince said. “You can call me the bad guy. I’ve pretty much said something to Flip [Saunders], Larry [Brown] and all my other coaches. It’s part of the game. Maybe the way I handled it wasn’t the right way. When you are getting beat by 30 early, strange things happen.”
A team source said Kuester and Prince didn’t discuss the incident at halftime. Prince started the second half, and was on the floor at the end of game after the Pistons trimmed what had been a 32-point deficit to two before losing. Kuester and Prince also didn’t talk after the game about their confrontation, the source said.
“I voiced my opinion, and he voiced his,” Prince said. “We were getting our heads bashed in, and I felt I had something to say and he felt that he had something to say. It’s a situation where everything we were trying to do out there, nothing was going our way. They were picking us apart.
“I felt I had something to say, he felt he had something to say and we left it at that. We came in here at halftime and put everything aside and said, ‘Let’s go out there and try to win this game,’ because Golden State is the type of team with the way they play that they can let you back in the ball game.”
Kuester declined to discuss the incident in detail, calling it a team matter. “The game is emotional,” he said. “The game is played with passion. That’s what’s needed at that stage of the game, that passion. And I thought Tayshaun responded in the second half.”
While Prince isn’t expected to be reprimanded by the Pistons, he had a lengthy discussion with his agent Bill Duffy after the game and could meet with team officials in Detroit. Several sources said tension has grown between the players and Kuester during the team’s struggles. Pistons guard Ben Gordon(notes) and forward Austin Daye(notes) have questioned Kuester’s in-game adjustments this season, and guard Rodney Stuckey(notes) was benched for a game after ignoring Kuester during a loss in Atlanta.
Monday’s incident also wasn’t the first between Prince and Kuester. After the Pistons dropped to 0-4 following a 109-86 loss to the Boston Celtics, Kuester questioned his team’s leadership, saying, “We have to collectively someway or somehow find another voice besides my own that is going to lead us." Prince fired back: “He says we got to be more vocal; he has to do some things better, too. Obviously, we're 0-4, so it ain't just the team."
The Pistons are now 4-7 and play host to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. When asked about the state of the team, one Pistons player said: “It’s like a traveling circus – Ringling Brothers.”