On Friday, March 28, the Detroit Pistons hosted the Miami Heat at the Palace of Auburn Hills. 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the Pistons’ 1989 NBA championship run. In honor of this quarter-century-old milestone, the 1988-89 Detroit Pistons team, collectively known as the “Bad Boys,” was given a halftime celebration at a packed Palace.
Current Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, a key member of the 1989 championship team, was joined on the court by his former teammates: Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, Rick Mahorn, Micheal Williams, Fennis Dembo, John Long, Mark Aguirre, James Edwards, Vinnie Johnson and Isiah Thomas. Thomas was, and still is, considered to be the leader of the Bad Boys. Laimbeer and Mahorn are looked at by many as having been the main causes of the Pistons adopting the Bad Boys moniker. They were both very physical players. Dennis Rodman, another key member of the 1989 Pistons, was not present. The coach of the 1989 Pistons, Hall of Famer Chuck Daly, is now deceased.
The Bad Boys were infamous around the league for their rough style of play on the basketball court. Their unforgivably harsh tactics were despised by opposing teams. Isiah and company got under the skins of many, including rivals such as Hall of Famers Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers. They are beloved by their numerous fans, but simultaneously resented by their many foes. Throughout the late ‘80s and early into the ‘90s, the Bad Boys were solely responsible for preventing future Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and his young, up-and-coming Chicago Bulls squad from advancing to the NBA Finals. In 1989, the Bad Boys secured Detroit’s first-ever NBA title.
The Bad Boys were finally conquered by Jordan and the Bulls in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. That year, the Bulls swept the Pistons four games to none and advanced to their first-ever NBA Finals appearance where they played, and defeated, Magic Johnson and the Lakers. In 1991, the Bulls captured their first of six NBA titles and began a new era of dominance in the Eastern Conference. The Bad Boys were no more after that.
The majority of the jersey numbers retired by the Motor City franchise includes numbers that were worn by players who were members of the Bad Boys. Dumars’ No. 4 Pistons jersey is retired, along with Rodman’s No. 10, Thomas’ No. 11, Johnson’s No. 15 and Laimbeer’s No. 40.
Friday’s halftime celebration was the highlight of the night at the Palace. The current Pistons suffered a 110-78 blowout loss to the Heat. The Pistons are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference standings while the Heat are second, only behind the Indiana Pacers.