Detroit Pistons

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 06:35

History of Detroit Pistons

Information about the NBA team Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons are a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise that has been competing in professional basketball since 1941 and joined the NBA in 1948. From 1941 to 1957, the Detroit Pistons franchise was known as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. Before joining the NBA, the team played in the National Basketball League (NBL), winning four NBL Division titles and two NBL Championship titles. Since joining the NBA, the Pistons have won 11 NBA Division titles, seven NBA Conference titles, and three NBA Championship titles. The team currently plays its home games at The Palace of Auburn Hills and the team colors are royal blue, red, and white. Read on to learn more about the Detroit Pistons franchise and its long history.

Detroit Pistons – before the NBA

Before joining the NBA, the then Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons made it to the NBL Playoffs in each of their seven seasons in the league. In fact, the only season in which the Pistons had a winning percentage below 62% was in the 1946-47 season, when they had a winning percentage of over 56%. The team was able to take two consecutive NBL Championship titles in 1944 and 1945.

In 1946, another league, the Basketball Association of America (BAA), was founded. Frank Zollner, the then-owner of the Pistons franchise, played a significant role in brokering the merger between the BAA and the NBL in 1949. The NBL merged with the BAA, and the league became known as the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1949. In recognition of Zollner's efforts, the Pistons were one of the NBL teams that was accepted into the NBA.

Detroit Pistons – early years in the NBA

The Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons first started playing in the NBA in the 1949 season. The team's first season was rather disappointing as the Pistons ended the season with a 22-38 record. As the following seasons would reveal, however, the Pistons were just warming-up. The team would make it to the Playoffs fourteen consecutive times after their first season. In the 1955 and 1956 Playoffs, the Pistons would make it all the way to the NBA Finals, but they were defeated by Syracuse and Philadelphia, respectively.

Following the 1956-57 season, Zollner decided to move the Pistons to Detroit, Michigan. Fort Wayne, Indiana, was too small to generate enough profit for the Pistons to stay in the city. Detroit, which was much larger than Fort Wayne, seemed to have a big-enough population and strong-enough economy to make the Detroit Pistons a profitable franchise. Ever since 1957, the Pistons franchise has stayed in Detroit, where they have experienced much of their success as an NBA franchise. The team continued its consistent play, entering into the Playoffs in its first seven seasons as the Detroit Pistons. The team would be unable to make it past the Division Finals and the 1963 Playoffs would be the last of their 14-season Playoffs streak.

Detroit Pistons – two decades of struggle

In the twenty seasons after the 1963 Playoffs, the Detroit Pistons would only make it to the Playoffs five times. Although the team would have a few NBA superstars on their roster throughout the sixties and seventies, the team as a whole was unable to perform well. In 1968, the team made it to the Playoffs only to be defeated by the Boston Celtics in the Division Semifinals. The next time they would make it into the Playoffs would be in 1974, which was the first of a four-season Playoffs streak. The furthest that the Pistons would get would be in the 1976 Playoffs, when they beat Milwaukee to enter into the Conference Semifinals. Golden State would beat them in the 1976 Conference Semifinals and in the 1977 First Round to put an end to Detroit's four-season long Playoffs streak.

During the 1979-80 season, the Detroit Pistons would have their worst season in franchise history. The team only won 16 games, losing 66, and ending the season with a sub-20% winning percentage. The team would show some improvements coming into the 1980s. The tides began to turn in the early '80s and the Detroit Pistons franchise returned to championship-form in the late 80s.

Detroit Pistons - the Detroit Bad Boys

In the 1980's, the Detroit Pistons would acquire a number of hard-nosed defenders who would make a name for the franchise. Some of the players who joined the Pistons in the 80s include Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Joe Dumars, and Rick Mahorn. The team played intense defense and they had a reputation for their determination and hustle. The team earned the name “The Detroit Bad Boys,” a nickname that would stick with the franchise to this day.

After a disappointing 21-61 season in 1980-81, the Detroit improved in the following two seasons. In the 1983-84 season, the Pistons posted a 49-33 record and made it back into the Playoffs for the first time since 1977. Unfortunately, the New York Knicks defeated Detroit in the First Round of the Playoffs. Although they were defeated, it would be the first of a nine-season Playoffs streak for the Pistons. In the 1985 Playoffs, Detroit swept the New Jersey Nets 3-0 to make it into the Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics. The team lost to the Celtics 4-2, but they were gaining much needed post-season experience. The 1986 Playoffs were another disappointment for the Pistons as they would get knocked-out of the competition by Atlanta in the First Round.

In the 1987 Playoffs, Detroit finally made it passed the Conference Semifinals to enter into the Conference Finals. The Boston Celtics would end Detroit's run by winning the series 4-3. One season later, the Detroit Pistons would make it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1956, over thirty years of waiting. The team had a hard-fought series with the Los Angeles Lakers, who ended up winning the Championships 4-3. In 1989, the Detroit Pistons won their first NBA Championship title by defeating the Lakers 4-0. The team would repeat in the 1990 Playoffs by beating the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA Finals. It would be one of the most important and unforgettable moments in the Pistons' franchise history.

Detroit Pistons -  the 90s decline

Throughout the 90s, the Detroit Pistons had a hard time. The team would ride on the momentum of their back-to-back Championship wins to make it to the 1991 Playoffs, but Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls would end Detroit's chances of a three-peat by beating then 4-0. The Pistons then began to decline and, although they made it to the Playoffs five times after the 1991 Playoffs, the team would be unable to make it past the First Round. At the turn of the century, though, the Detroit Pistons' luck would change once again and they would prove that they are one of the best franchises in the league.

Detroit Pistons – 2000 to the present

In the 2000-01 season, Detroit would only have a winning percentage of 39%, but the team would make some adjustments to build a strong team with championship potential. Since the end of the 2000-01 season up to the 2007-08 season, the Pistons have made it to the Playoffs in every season. The team lost in the 2002 Conference Semifinals and the 2003 Conference Finals before winning their third NBA Championship title in 2004. The team made it to the Finals again in 2005, but they lost to the San Antonio Spurs 4-3. In the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Playoffs, the Pistons would make it to the Conference Finals, but they would be unable to get back into the NBA Finals. Some of the main contributors to the Pistons in the 2000s include Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace.

As of December 19, 2008, the Detroit Pistons have a 2008-09 record of 14-9, which places them in second in the Central Division.