The Detroit Pistons in the 1980s were a scary team to go up against. They went toe to toe with the best teams in the league. The Larry Bird led Boston Celtics and the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls feared the self-proclaimed “Bad Boys” of the NBA.

The Players

The Bad Boy’s persona for the Pistons was everything to them. The Pistons squad was summed up with six players. Center Bill Laimbeer, Small Forward Dennis Rodman, Point Guard Isiah Thomas, Power Forward Rick Mahorn, Power Forward John Salley and Shooting Guard Joe Dumars.

Bill Laimbeer was the main instigator when it came to fights or insults. Laimbeer would guard the paint and get rough with any player who dared enter. Dennis Rodman was the best defender on the team and the main rebounder, accumulating over 6000 rebounds in his career.

Isiah Thomas was the main offensive player averaging over 20 points per game. The other three Mahorn, Dumars and Salley were all key pieces to the Pistons bad boy persona.

The Road To The Top

After accumulating this great team the Pistons were primed to contend with the best teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, those teams being the previously mentioned Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. In 1988 The Pistons earned their first trip to the NBA Finals after finally defeating Larry Bird and the Celtics in six games. The Pistons then faced the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers and narrowly lost four games to three.

The Pistons came back the next year and earned the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with an outstanding record of 63-19. In the playoffs, in the first round, the Pistons swept their opponents from the previous Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics. In the Eastern Semifinals, they faced the Milwaukee Bucks and proceeded to sweep them as well.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, they faced Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls put up a valiant fight but lost four games to two. Finally, the Pistons made it back to the NBA Finals and were once again facing Magic Johnson and the Lakers, but this time the Pistons got the better of the Lakers and swept them in four games.

The next year the Pistons got picked up right where they left off. They recaptured the number one seed at 59-23. In the first round they swept the number eight seed Indiana Pacers 3-0. Then in the Eastern Semifinals, they faced the New York Knicks who they soundly defeated four games to one. Then once again in the Eastern Conference Finals, they met the Chicago Bulls and Micahel Jordan. This series was very hard-fought, the Pistons won the first two games in Detroit. Then Michael Jordan and company rattled off two straight wins of their own to even up the series 2-2. The Pistons would win game five but the Bulls won game six to force a game seven.

The Pistons took down the Bulls in Detroit 93-74 and moved on to their second straight NBA Finals. This time they faced Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail-Blazers. The Pistons would easily take down the Blazers four games to one and win their second straight NBA title.


In conclusion to this article the Pistons feared no one and it showed. They showed that they were the ones to be feared and the results paid off greatly.