Former Michigan Wolverines forward Isaiah Livers’ professional basketball dreams came true on Thursday when the home state Detroit Pistons made him the No. 42 overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. He battled through the ups and downs of injuries and two COVID-19 impacted seasons over the last few years, but was able to earn his NBA opportunity nonetheless.
Livers, who will sport No. 12 in Detroit, is a member of a four-man draft class in Detroit headlined by No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, the franchise’s first top overall pick since 1970 when they selected Bob Lanier. The other members include former Iowa star center Luka Garza and Florida State center Balsa Koprivica.
Sitting to Cunningham’s left, Livers revealed what it meant to him to continue his basketball career 45 minutes away from where he played in college.
“I’m just excited to be back home, man,” Livers told the media on Friday afternoon in Detroit. “I played down the street at Michigan and I knew the Pistons were on the clock at 42. Me and my dad and my mom were like, ‘Let’s stay home. Why not?’ What (head coach Dwane) Casey and (general manager Troy) Weaver have going on over here is something I want to be a part of because there’s about to be some talent. Like they use the word ‘restore.’ Perfect. When I was in my interviews I was like ‘restore.’ I like that word better than ‘rebuild’ as well. Restore Detroit to where it’s supposed to be and I’m excited to be here.”
Cunningham’s selection is a franchise-altering move for the Pistons, who have gone well over a decade without championship-level success. The focus of the press conference was mostly about what he brings to the table, understandably so. But it was actually Livers that was cited by Pistons head coach Dwane Casey as a pick that solidifies the culture they are building in Detroit.
“We have good people. We have high-character, talented men. It started last year and is continuing this year,” Casey said on Friday when discussing the Pistons’ draft.
“To give you an example, Isaiah came in to visit and my son was in there. My son was peeking in and watching us talk while I’m interviewing Isaiah and talking to him about his family and where’s from. My son wrote a note and slid it under the door. I looked at it, and I don’t know if Isaiah remembers it or not, it said, ‘Dad, we’ve got to sign...we’ve got to recruit him. He’s a nice guy.’ So he didn’t care about playing or anything like that. Kids are honest and they’ll tell you the truth. That’s what we have here are four men that fit the mold of a Detroit Piston. They’re gritty. They enjoy the grind. That’s what we’re looking for here is to have guys like that every day.”
The four Pistons draft picks all took turns introducing themselves to the media, which ended in Koprivica’s brief statement. Livers further injected a bit of his personality into the presser by stopping it so Koprivica could give a PSA on how to say his last time.
Isaiah Livers stopped the press conference so that Balsa Koprivica could tell everyone how to pronounce his last name pic.twitter.com/D96rKbQ2V3— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) July 30, 2021
It’s “Kope-rah-vizza” by the way. “Like a pizza,” the former FSU big man would reveal.
Next up for Livers, Cunningham and the Pistons is the NBA Summer League in Vegas, which kicks off Aug. 8. With the No. 1 overall pick on the roster, each game is getting a primetime slot and will be nationally broadcast, so we will get to see how Livers looks in his first action as a Piston.