Detroit Pistons: A Blue Collar Team
When you are trying to find a blue collar team that plays as a team and has been known as a defensive powerhouse throughout its existence then look no further than the Detroit Pistons. The Detroit Pistons franchise has been around for over 50 years. Throughout franchise history the Detroit Pistons have won 2 NBL championships and 3 NBA championships. Most recently the Detroit Pistons franchise is known for the brawl they got into with the Indiana Pacers. The Detroit Pistons are a true team and give great pride to the people of Detroit, the Detroit metropolitan area, and the great state of Michigan.
The Detroit Piston franchise was first founded in 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana by Fred Zollner who was the owner of piston manufacturing company, hence the name Pistons. When the Pistons became part of the National Basketball Association they were placed into the Central Division along with powerhouses Minneapolis Lakers and Rochester Royals. The Fort Wayne Pistons became a popular franchise during the 1950s and appeared in the NBA finals in 1954 and 1955. In 1957 owner Fred Zollner moved the team to Detroit, a larger city with no NBA team. In their first four seasons in Detroit, the Pistons played at Olympia Stadium, which at the time was home to the Detroit Red Wings.
During the four years at Olympia Stadium, the Pistons posted losing records each year and continued to make the playoffs, but with early exits. In 1961 the Pistons started playing their games at Cobo Arena. The Pistons continue to make the playoffs with losing records for the first two years at Cobo and continue to lose in the playoffs. Over the next six years the Pistons went through many changes. They missed the playoffs five out of six seasons, went through five different coaches including Dave DeBusschere who was a player-coach, and moved to the Eastern Conference. Notable players during that time are Dave DeBusschere, lead the team in rebounding for three years, and Dave Bing, who won rookie of the year in 1967-68 season and became one of the franchise’s leading scorers. Over the next four seasons the Pistons miss the playoffs, get moved back into the Western Conference, but acquire Bob Lanier in the 1970 draft. The combo of Bing and Lanier help the Pistons to a 52-30 record in the 1973-74 season but fall to Chicago in the playoffs.
In 1974 Fred Zollner sold the Detroit Pistons to Bill Davidson, current owner of the Piston franchise. Over the next six seasons the Pistons continue to struggle, are moved back to the Eastern Conference, and only make the playoffs three times. In 1978 Davidson moved the franchise to the Silverdome in Pontiac, which was home to the Detroit Lions at the time. In 1980 the Piston franchise decides to rebuild and in the 1981 draft acquire Piston legends Isiah Thomas and Kelly Tripuka who help bring the Pistons back into playoff contention. Over the next ten years the Pistons make important acquisitions of Coach Chuck Daly, players Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Vinnie Johnson, Rick Mahorn, John Salley, Dennis Rodman, and Adrian Dantley and tremendous improvements are what followed. These players became the core of the team which was given the nick name “Bad Boys” for their aggressive defense and became a dominant force in the league.
The Pistons were moved to their own stadium, The Palace of Auburn Hills, in 1988, which is still where they play their games. The Pistons won their first NBA championship in the 1988-89 season and their second in the 1989-90 season to make it back-to-back championships. The next few seasons the Pistons remained a dominant force in the league but were slipping out of that position. The 1990s became a transitional period with players like Thomas, Laimbeer, and Dumars retiring and others including Rodman, Mahorn, Salley, Johnson, and Dantley leaving. Coaching changes and new player acquisitions followed. The draft of Grant Hill brightened things up but short playoff length cut the Pistons short. Dumars retired after the 1998-99 season, but became president of basketball operations for the Pistons in 2000 and traded Grant Hill for Ben Wallace, who became the center around which the rest of the team was built, and Chucky Atkins. In 2001 with new coach Rick Carlisle, Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, stellar guard Jerry Stackhouse, and Sixth Man of the Year Corliss Williamson, the Pistons were back in playoff contention. In 2002-03 the Pistons acquired point guard Chauncey Billups, shooting guard Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse, and drafted small forward Tayshaun Prince to surround Ben Wallace with offensive and defensive support. The Pistons continued to improve but fell short in the playoffs that year. Joe Dumars was putting a team together like putting pieces to a puzzle together. In the 2003-04 season the last pieces were put together with new coach Larry Brown and power forward Rasheed Wallace. The Pistons were once again considered the “Bad Boys” of basketball and became NBA champs in 2003-04.
The Pistons have since returned to the NBA finals but lost to the San Antonio Spurs in 2004-05. With new coach Flip Saunders and an improved bench the Pistons look to recapture the NBA title for the 2005-06 season and are considered to be one of the best teams in the league with the best starting line-up. The Pistons are and have always been considered one of the best defensive teams in the league. With the blue collar team the Pistons have now they are a true team who play as one.