Our Detroit Pistons have been situated in the Detroit area since 1957. But did you know that they weren’t always located in the D? The Pistons were originally formed in 1941 by Fred Zollner and located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Included in the ranks of the BAA (Basketball Association of America) they were named the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons and played in a local high school gymnasium. Jumping to the NBL (National Basketball League), which later formed into the NBA, the Pistons eventually needed a bigger city to become profitable. In 1957 the Pistons made the jump to Olympia Stadium where they played for their first four seasons until they moved to Cobo Arena. During this time period, the Pistons never really managed to put any W’s o n the board, but still had some great player who contributed positively to the franchise. Our current mayor, Dave Bing, along with Bob Lanier and Jimmy Walker.
The Pistons fate was to be forever altered when Fred Zollner sold the team to Bill Davidson in 1974. Davidson then moved the Pistons to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1978 where they played until they found a more permanent home at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 1988. During the 36 years of family ownership, the Pistons blossomed into perennial Eastern Conference contenders and smashing league attendance records. Bill Davidson, a smart business leader, hired the right people in the right places and built an NBA empire for the fans of Detroit. Jack McCloskey was hired as a GM and began to assemble the pieces which later became our beloved Bad Boys!
From 1981-1988, Jack McCloskey drafted Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, traded for Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie “the Microwave” Johnson, and picked up other great contributors like John “the Spider ” Salley, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre, Rick Mahorn and James “Buddha” Edwards. At the helm, he chose the late great Chuck Daly to guide the ship and manage all of our personalities. The plan worked and in 1988 we beat Larry Bird and the Celtics to see our first glimpse of the NBA Finals. We would eventually lose to Magic Johnson and the Lakers in seven games. The next two years saw the Bad Boys return to the NBA Finals where we were crowned World Champs in back to back fashion!
As nations rise and fall, so did the lore of our great Bad Boys. Jack McCloskey retired and the dynasty waned and gave way to the next NBA champs. After nearly a half a decade battling Jordan and the Bulls, Chicago eventually beat us out and dethroned our Champs. Rebuilding stages were to follow with limited success. in 1994 the Pistons drafted NBA great Grant Hill who would put his stamp on the history of the franchise. A great individual player, the Pistons failed to build around him. Coach after coach came and went with only Doug Collins having success on the bench. The Pistons also started to lose touch with fan base as they altered their colors and logo. The famed red, white and blue gave way to a teal, gold, burgundy and black. Joe Dumars retired in this era (1999), the last of the Bad Boys, and was named the GM the following year.
Joe Dumars was to further etch his legacy into Pistons lore. Hill, who was a free agent, was traded to Orlando in a sign and trade deal that was to bring us Chucky Atkins and Big Ben Wallace. Dumars was beginning to assemble his puzzle pieces in what would become another legacy in franchise history. The Pistons would add Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and a host of other supporting cast members. In the years to come, the Pistons would make an appearance at six straight Eastern Conference Finals, advancing twice . They would win one title under coach larry Brown, defeating Shaq, Kobe and the other Lakers in 2004. In 2005, they would return for a second consecutive time, but lose in 7 to Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Hard at Work Pistons were dismantled and in the next few years to come, our longtime franchise father figure, Bill Davidson, was to pass away. His mark on the Detroit Pistons will forever be remembered. His absence caused much turmoil over the next few years and the Pistons would bottom out in the standings and try once again to rebuild. Our next great adventure is on the horizon as we welcome Tom Gores, a self made billionaire and Michigan native, will be the next great face and leader of our franchise. His ownership is much needed to help the Pistons regain their glory.
In the NBA, our Detroit Pistons have won 3 NBA World Championships. We have made 5 appearances to the NBA Finals. The ‘Stones have won 7 Conference Titles as well as 9 Division Titles. Only four teams in the history of the NBA have won more World Championship titles, making the Detroit Pistons one of the elite teams in NBA history.