Detroit Pistons, formally known as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons and Fort Wayne Pistons is an American basketball team based in Detroit. Detroit Pistons won a total of three NBA Championship Ring. Detroit Pistons won their Championship Rings in year 1989, 1990 and 2004.
1981–1994: The Isiah Thomas era
The Detroit Pistons fortunes finally began to turn in 1981, when they drafted point guard Isiah Thomas from Indiana University. In November 1981, the Pistons acquired Vinnie Johnson in a trade with the Seattle SuperSonics.
They later acquired center Bill Laimbeer in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 1982. Another key move by the Pistons was the hiring of head coach Chuck Daly in 1983.
Isiah Thomas against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 1985.
Initially, the Detroit Pistons had difficulty moving up the NBA ladder. In 1984, the Detroit Pistons lost a tough five-game series to the underdog New York Knicks, 3–2. Losing their chance of winning their NBA championship ring.
In the 1985 playoffs, Detroit Detroit won its first-round series and faced the defending champion Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals. Though Boston Boston prevailed in six games, Detroit Pistons’ surprise performance promised that a rivalry had begun.
In the 1985 NBA draft, the team selected Joe Dumars 18th overall, a selection that proved to be very wise. They also acquired Rick Mahorn in a trade with the Washington Bullets.
However, the team took a step backwards, losing in the first round of the 1986 playoffs to the more athletic Atlanta Hawks. After the series, changes were made in order to make the team more defensive-minded.
1986–1991: The Bad Boys Era
Prior to the 1986–87 season, the Detroit Pistons acquired more key players: John Salley (drafted 11th overall), Dennis Rodman (drafted 27th) and Adrian Dantley (acquired in a trade with the Utah Jazz). The team adopted a physical, defense-oriented style of play, which eventually earned them the nickname “Bad Boys”.
In 1987, the Detroit Pistons reached the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. After pushing the defending champions to a 2–2 tie, the Detroit Pistons were on the verge of winning Game 5 at the Boston Garden with seconds remaining.
After a Boston Celtics turnover, Isiah Thomas attempted to quickly inbound the ball and missed Chuck Daly’s timeout signal from the bench. Larry Bird stole the inbound pass and passed it to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup.
While the Detroit Pistons did win Game 6 in Detroit, they lost the series in a tough Game 7 back in Boston. Again, losing a chance of winning an NBA Championship ring.
Motivated by their loss to the Celtics, the Detroit Pistons, aided by midseason acquisition James Edwards, improved to a then-franchise-record 54 victories and the franchise’s first division title in 32 years.
In the postseason, the Detroit Pistons avenged their two previous playoff losses to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, defeating them in six games and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since the franchise moved to Detroit.
The Detroit Pistons’ first trip to the Finals in 32 years saw them face the Los Angeles Lakers, who were led by Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
After taking a 3–2 series lead back to Los Angeles, Detroit Pistons appeared poised to win their first NBA title in Game 6. In that game, Isiah Thomas scored an NBA Finals record 25 points in the third quarter while playing on a severely sprained ankle.
However, the Lakers won the game, 103–102, on a pair of last-second free throws by Abdul-Jabbar following a controversial foul called on Bill Laimbeer, referred to by many as a “phantom foul”.
With Isaiah Thomas unable to compete at full strength, the Pistons narrowly fell in Game 7, 108–105, as the Los Angeles Lakers became the first back-to-back NBA Champions since the 1969 Boston Celtics. Lakers brought home the NBA Championship ring this season.
Winning the 1989 NBA Championship Ring
The 1988-1989 season was the first time the Pistons won their NBA Championship ring. Prior to the 1988–89 season, the Detroit Pistons moved to Auburn Hills to play at The Palace of Auburn Hills, the first NBA arena financed entirely with private funds.
The 1989 Detroit Pistons completed the building of their roster by trading Adrian Dantley for Mark Aguirre, a trade that Detroit Pistons fans criticized heavily initially, but later praised.
The team won 63 games, shattering their one-year-old franchise record, and steamrolled through the playoffs and into an NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers.
This time, the Detroit Pistons came out victorious in a four-game sweep to win their first NBA championship ring. Joe Dumars was named NBA Finals MVP.
Defending Champion, Detroit Pistons 1990 NBA Championship Ring
The Detroit Pistons successfully defended their title in 1990, despite losing Rick Mahorn to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the expansion draft.
After winning 59 games and a third straight division title, the Detroit Pistons cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs before playing a tough Eastern Conference Finals series against Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the Chicago Bulls.
Facing each other for the third straight season, the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls split the first six games before the Detroit Pistons finished the series with a decisive 93–74 victory in Game 7.
Advancing to their third consecutive NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons faced the Portland Trail Blazers. After splitting the first two games at The Palace, the Detroit Pistons went to Portland, where they had not won a game since 1974, to play Games 3, 4 and 5
The Detroit Pistons won all three games in Portland, becoming the first NBA team to sweep the middle three games on the road. The decisive game came down to the final second.
Trailing 90–83 with two minutes remaining, the Pistons rallied to tie the game, then took a 92–90 lead when Vinnie Johnson sank a 15-foot jumper with 00.7 seconds left in the game.
This shot earned Johnson a new nickname in Detroit, “007”, to go with his original, “The Microwave”. Isiah Thomas was named NBA Finals MVP. This is the second NBA Championship Ring won by the Detroit Pistons.
The Detroit Pistons’ championship run came to an end in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, as they were swept by the eventual NBA champion Chicago Bulls in four games.
The most critical Piston injury was to Isiah Thomas, who had suffered a wrist injury a few months prior to the NBA playoffs. The Conference Finals is best remembered for the Detroit Pistons walking off the court in the last game.
Just before it ended, willingly letting the final seconds tick away, unwilling to shake hands with the Bulls. After the series, Michael Jordan said, “You see two different styles with us and them. The dirty play and the flagrant fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Hopefully, that will be eliminated from the game. I think we play clean basketball. We don’t go out and try to hurt people and dirty up the game.
You never lose respect for the champions. But I haven’t agreed with the methods they used. I think people are happy the game will get back to a clean game [with a Bulls triumph] and away from the ‘Bad Boy’ image.”
After getting swept by the Bulls, the Pistons traded James Edwards and waived Vinnie Johnson during the off-season. In the 1991–92 season, the Pistons finished with a 48–34 record.In the first round of the 1992 NBA playoffs, the Pistons were defeated by the New York Knicks in five games Chuck Daly resigned as head coach after the season.
Following Daly’s departure, the Pistons went through a transitional period, as key players were either traded (Salley and Rodman) or retired (Laimbeer in 1993 and Thomas in 1994). They bottomed out in the 1993–94 season, finishing with a 20–62 record.
Detroit Pistons winning the 2004 NBA Championship Ring
Prior the Chicago Bulls with Steve Kerr winning the 2003 – 2004 NBA Champion. The 2004-2005 NBA Finals was the meet up of the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers
Although the Lakers, headed by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, were considered the heavy favorites to bring home the NBA Championship Ring. the Detroit Pistons handily won the series in five games.
This win marked the Detroit Pistons’ fifth win overall as a franchise (including two NBL championships: in 1944 and 1945 as the Fort Wayne Pistons) as well as its first NBA Championship ring since two 1989–90 NBA championship seasons which was nearly fifteen years prior.
The series ultimately featured the perceived underdog Detroit Pistons dominating a Lakers team composed of four future Hall of Famers
Chauncey Billups was named the. MVP of the NBA Finals and the entire team was award with a NBA Championship ring.
Also, this was the third NBA Championship ring the Pistons won. Also, the last NBA Championship ring Detroit Pistons won in their franchise history till today.