Deeetrooittt Basketball–History of the Pistons
In the last couple of decades, the Detroit Pistons have become a real town favorite, like the Pistons and the Tigers. They have a reputation of being one of the toughest teams in the NBA, hence the nickname, “The Bad Boys.” With their home in The Palace, the Pistons are within a luxury sedan ride away from most places in the Detroit suburbs.
In The 1950s.
Pistons founder Fred Zollner moved the franchise from Ft. Wayne, IN to Detroit in 1957 in order to financially compete with teams from bigger cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. The club came to Detroit on the strength of two consecutive division titles and one year removed from two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. The team finished the decade with a record of 91-128, making the postseason all three seasons, but advancing to the second round only during the 1957-58 season, where they lost in the second round. The emergence of rookie Bailey Howell, mixed with All-Stars Gene Shue, Walter Dukes, and Chuck Noble gave the Pistons hope for the future as the 1950’s came to a close.
In The 1960s.
Selecting Dave DeBusschere, a native Detroiter and University of Detroit graduate, in 1962 and Dave Bing from Syracuse in 1966 were moments that infused excitement into an otherwise unsuccessful decade, one in which the team posted a 314-494 mark. DeBusschere was an All-Star forward and spent three years as the Pistons’ player-coach, making him the youngest coach in the history of the league at age 24. Bing burst on the scene in 1966, averaging 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game, en route to the Rookie of the Year Award. These legendary Pistons could not change the team’s lack of success in the post season. The Pistons made the playoffs following the 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1968 seasons, but again could not advance past the second round. The hiring of two-time NBA Champion head coach Butch van Breda Kolff and the selection of All-American Bob “The Dobber” Lanier brought the club great promise for the future.
In The 1970s.
The 1970’s featured Detroit’s first 50 win season (52-30 in 1973-74) and its worst season (16-60 in 1979-80). The team saw eight coaches, including former players Terry Dischinger, Earl Lloyd, and Ray Scott. Ownership changed in 1974, when Fred Zollner sold the franchise to Detroit native and Guardian Industries owner William Davidson. The 1970’s revolved around two of the best players in franchise history. The two combined for two Rookie of the Year Awards, two All-NBA Team selections, and two All-Star MVP awards in a combined 11 All-Star appearances. A reVITALE-ization came in 1978, when the club moved its home from Cobo Hall to the Pontiac Silverdome. The team hired former University of Detroit head coach Dick Vitale.
In The 1980s.
Over the course of nine months, Pistons GM “Trader” Jack McCloskey would change the future of the franchise. In 1981 he drafted Isiah Thomas and Kelly Tripucka and signed Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson. Chuck Daly was named head coach and players like Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre, John Salley, Rick Mahorn, and James Edwards were added. The 1980’s were trademarked with a tough, physical style of basketball, which would lead to the nickname, “the Bad Boys.” The team became hated throughout the NBA, but no place more than Chicago and Boston, the Pistons main rivals in their quest to win an NBA Championship. The Pistons made the postseason from 1983-1990. Every series was a tough battle, with the Pistons going to at least six games in six different series, ultimately winning back-to-back NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990.
In The 1990s
As high as the Pistons had been during the 1980’s, the tide turned just as low in the 1990s. In 1991, head coach Chuck Daly and GM Jack McCloskey resigned and James Edwards, Scott Hastings, and Vinnie Johnson were traded. Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer retired in 1993, officially ending the reign of the Bad Boys. The future seemed bright after drafting Allan Houston, Lindsey Hunter, and Grant Hill in 1993 and 1994. The three youngsters teamed with head coach Doug Collins to win 100 games during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. At the end of the 1998 season, Joe Dumars retired from playing and moved into the front office, and was promoted to president of basketball operations after the 1999-2000 season. A serious injury to Grant Hill’s left ankle not only ended the Pistons’ 2000 playoff run, but would also end his career with the team.
2000 to 2005.
Joe Dumars wanted a tough, hardworking, relentless team focused on team success. He acquired Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins from Orlando in a sign-and-trade for Grant Hill, and during the 2000-2001 season, he made 21 roster moves, including hiring Rick Carlisle as head coach. Over the next two years, the club added Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. The Pistons won 100 games, two Central Division crowns, and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003. In 2003, Dumars replaced Carlisle with Larry Brown. The team cruised to a 54-win season, and added Rasheed Wallace in a trade deadline move. Despite a world full of doubters, the team believed in one another, and defeated the heavily favored Lakers for the NBA title. In 2005, the Pistons were 12 minutes away from “back-to-back” championships, but eventually fell to the Spurs 81-74 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.