Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham “plays the right way”

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Cade Cunningham has an interesting connection to a former coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Larry Brown’s short stint with in Detroit left a huge impact on the organization. He returned the team to prominence by winning the 2004 NBA championship. He’s the only coach to win championships as a head coach in college and in the NBA. Brown’s teams were known to play tough defense along with strong point guard play on offense. He demanded a lot from his facilitator and he made them better players. He’s a Hall-of-Fame coach and deservingly so.

His vast knowledge and no nonsense approach comes from his college days at North Carolina. As a player he was mentored and coached by the legendary Dean Smith. This molded his outlook, and created a basketball mind like no other.

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His ability to keep the most complex basketball plays simple was his calling card. He was able to bottle up all his knowledge and explain it in four words. Those four words were “Play the Right Way.” This phrase became the motto for the “Goin To Work” team who made two Finals appearances in during his tenure in Detroit.

Detroit Pistons: From Larry Brown to Cade Cunningham

This also has been instilled in Cade Cunningham from day one. Cade’s older brother Cannen made sure of that. He’s played a mentor role with Cade teaching him the game of basketball. After being coached by Brown, “playing the right way” was something that was first nature to Cannen. That rubbed off on the future number one pick as he developed under his brother’s tutelage.

Now Cade plays with a feel for the game most veterans don’t have. As a player he epitomizes the meaning of the phrase “play the right way.” He tries to elevate his teammates, he’s committed on defense and he has taken on the role of leader as a rookie. His game was molded by his brother Cannen, who I’ve recently had the chance to speak with on this topic via Twitter.

When I asked if he heard Brown use the phrase “play the right way” he said, “He might’ve used it everyday,” reflecting back on his Southern Methodist University days.

He then went on to say, “I gave Cade everything I  ever learned” and when you learn from a Hall-of-Fame coach you tend to learn a lot. Sharing that knowledge gave Cade a better outlook on the game. Cannen finished the conversation by saying, “Play hard, play smart, play together,” the main three ingredients to Larry Brown’s basketball philosophy.

This created a player in Cade Cunningham who has all the tools to be the next great Piston. He just became the first rookie in Pistons’ history to record 800 points 250 rebounds and 250 assists in his first 50 games. He plays an unselfish brand of basketball, controlling the pace in a way that would make Brown proud. Cade Cunningham is the future of the Detroit Pistons, however his skill set is a blast from the past.

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