Celebrity carpenter Carter Oosterhouse has landed in Hollywood, with a role on TLC's "Trading Spaces," regular appearances on the "Today" show and a spot on Amy Grant's upcoming NBC series "Three Wishes." Still, the Traverse City, Mich., native proudly notes that he "never jumped on the [Lakers] bandwagon, thank God." Oosterhouse, who was a scholarship rugby player at Central Michigan before moving to Southern California, was scheduled to attend last night's Spurs-Pistons game in Auburn Hills.

Are the Pistons too boring?

Oh c'mon, people who say they're boring don't know the fundamentals of basketball. Their defense is the backbone, the whole structure of what a good basketball team should be. Unfortunately it's not the alley-oop, behind-the-back, 30-foot shot, but it's the backbone of basketball. The Pistons just play the right way, and if you're really, truly a sports or basketball enthusiast, you appreciate the way they play.

Why are you so into fundamentally sound basketball?

I grew up playing basketball, and Coach definitely stressed that type of basketball play. I can't jump very high, so I guess I had to resort to other things, being fundamentally sound. The Pistons, for me, I think they're an incredible team to watch, and a few other people can appreciate the defense they play. People say, 'Oh, San Antonio played bad [on Thursday], they couldn't shoot.' Well, there's a reason they couldn't shoot.

Has the Pistons' success made up for the lack of hockey?

Oh, that's a tough answer, being from Detroit. I don't think any amount of success can make up for the lack of hockey this season and the disappointment I've had with the NHL. It's just a horrible thing that has happened, that the NHL brought upon themselves. I don't think anything can make up for the lack of a hockey season. [In] Detroit, that's what people grow up doing.

Rugby players have a reputation for being a little crazy, right?

Oh yeah. We did all kinds of stupid stuff in college, just the average, daily, run-around-naked kind of stuff. Literally just stupid college stuff, that's what rugby players do. You go to rugby games today, you'll still see old guys running around naked. That's the tradition. I didn't make it up, but I followed it, that's for sure.

You were in People's Sexiest Man Alive issue the same year as Derek Jeter. What helps more with the ladies, being a pro baseball player or a carpenter?

Oh jeez, probably the millions of dollars that he has, that doesn't hurt, I'm going to say that. I'm probably crazy, but that doesn't hurt. I'm going to say the baseball player wins on that, hands down.

Any home improvement ideas for sprucing up the Palace?

Sprucing up the Palace? We just got cheerleaders a little while ago, so that helps. I'm going to say get rid of the deep purple they have in the seats. I don't know colors off the bat, but from what they have now with the deep purple you could pretty much do any color. That color's just so outdated right now. They're trying to get the monarch look, but they've definitely dated themselves. At the time it looked cool, because it was a new building, but now it's just so ugly looking, you're like, 'C'mon, do something with that.'

-- Dan Steinberg

OOSTERHOUSE