Basketball Wiki
Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons.png
Conference Eastern Conference NBA.png Eastern Conference
Division Central Division
Founded 1941
History Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
Fort Wayne Pistons
Detroit Pistons
Arena Little Caesars Arena
City Detroit, Michigan
Team Colours Royal Blue, Red, Chrome, Black, White
Media Fox Sports Detroit
Owner(s) Tom Gores
General Manager Troy Weaver
Head Coach Dwane Casey
Uniform Sponsor United Wholesale Mortgage
D-League affiliate Motor City Cruise
NBA NBA Championship logo.png 3 (1989, 1990, 2004)
Conference Conference Championship logo.png 5 (1988, 1989, 1990, 2004, 2005)
Division 11 (1955, 1956, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
Retired numbers 10 (1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 15, 16, 21, 32, 40)
Official Website
Detroit Pistons Home Uniform.gif Detroit Pistons Road Uniform.gif Detroit Pistons motor city uniform.gif
Home court
Detroit Pistons court design.jpg

The Detroit Pistons is an American team in the National Basketball Association based in Detroit, Michigan. The Pistons compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division and plays its home games at Little Caesars Arena, located in Midtown.

The team was founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne (Zollner) Pistons in 1941, a member of the National Basketball League (NBL) where it won two NBL championships: in 1944 and 1945. The Pistons later joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1948. The NBL and BAA merged to become the NBA in 1949, and the Pistons became part of the merged league. In 1957, the franchise moved to Detroit. The Pistons have won three NBA championships: in 1989, 1990, and 2004.

Franchise history

1941–1957: Fort Wayne Pistons

Fort Wayne Pistons logo 1941–1948.

The franchise was founded as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, a National Basketball League (NBL) team, playing in the gym of North Side High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Owners Fred Zollner and his sister Janet's Zollner Corporation was a foundry, manufacturing pistons, primarily for car, truck and locomotive engines. In 1948, the team became the Fort Wayne Pistons, competing in the Basketball Association of America (BAA). In 1949, Fred Zollner brokered the formation of the National Basketball Association from the BAA and the NBL at his kitchen table.

Fort Wayne Pistons logo 1948–1957.

There are suggestions that Pistons players conspired with gamblers to shave points and throw various games during the 1953–54 and 1954–55 seasons. In particular, there are accusations that the team may have intentionally lost the 1955 NBA Finals to the Syracuse Nationals.[1] In the decisive Game 7, the Pistons led Syracuse 41–24 early in the second quarter, then the Nationals rallied to win the game.[2] Syracuse won on a free throw by George King with twelve seconds left in the game. The closing moments included a palming turnover by the Pistons' George Yardley with 18 seconds left, a foul by Frankie Brian with 12 seconds left that enabled King's winning free throw, and a turnover by the Pistons' Andy Phillip with three seconds left which cost Fort Wayne a chance to attempt the game-winning shot.[3]

1957–1979: Move to Detroit and Decades of Struggles

Detroit Pistons logo 1957–1971.

Though the Pistons enjoyed a solid local following, their city's small size made it difficult for them to be profitable. In 1957, Zollner moved the team to Detroit, a much larger city which had not seen professional basketball in a decade. In 1947, they had lost the Detroit Gems of the NBL, who moved to become the Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers), and the Detroit Falcons of the BAA, which folded.

Detroit Pistons logo 1971–1975.

Due to Detroit's economy being extremely reliant on the manufacturing of cars, they decided to keep the Pistons name. The new Detroit Pistons played in Olympia Stadium (home of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings at the time) for their first four seasons, then moved to Cobo Arena. The franchise was a consistent disappointment, struggling both on the court and at the box office.

Detroit Pistons logo 1975–1979.

During the '60s and '70s, the Pistons were characterized by very strong individuals and weak teams. Some of the superstars who played for the team included Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Jimmy Walker, and Bob Lanier. At one point DeBusschere was the youngest player-coach in the history of the NBA. Unfortunately, an ill timed trade was made during the 1968 season which sent the popular home grown DeBusschere to the New York Knicks for Howard Komives and Walt Bellamy both who were in the later stages of their career. DeBusschere became the key player that then led the Knicks to two NBA titles. The Dave Bing and Bob Lanier era did have some solid and exciting years but they were handicapped by being in the same division as the Milwaukee Bucks which had a young Lew Alcindor and the Chicago Bulls which had some very strong players.

In 1974, Zollner sold the team to Bill Davidson, who remained the team's principal owner until his death on March 14, 2009. Displeased with the team's location in downtown Detroit, Davidson moved them to the suburb of Pontiac, Michigan in 1978, where they played in the mammoth Silverdome, a structure built for professional football (and the home of the Detroit Lions at the time).

1980–1991: The Bad Boys era

Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys era" logo 1979–1996.

The Pistons stumbled their way out of the 1970s and into the 1980s, beginning with a 16–66 record in 1979–80 and following up with a 21–61 record in 1980–81. The 1979–80 team lost its last 14 games of the season which, when coupled with the seven losses at the start of the 1980–81 season, comprised a then-NBA record losing streak of 21 games (since broken).

The franchise's fortunes finally began to turn in 1981, when it drafted point guard Isiah Thomas from Indiana University. In early 1982, the Pistons acquired center Bill Laimbeer in a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers and guard Vinnie Johnson from the Seattle SuperSonics. The three would remain together for a decade, forming much of the core of a team that would rise to the top of the league.

Initially the Pistons had a tough time moving up the NBA ladder. In 1984, the Pistons lost a tough five-game series to the underdog New York Knicks, three games to two. In the 1985 playoffs, Detroit won its first-round series and faced the defending champion Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals. Though Boston would prevail in six games, Detroit's surprise performance promised that a rivalry had begun. In the 1985 NBA Draft, the team selected Joe Dumars 18th overall, a selection that would prove very wise. They also acquired Rick Mahorn in a trade with the Washington Bullets. However, the team initially took a step backward, losing in the first round of the 1986 playoffs to the more athletic Atlanta Hawks. After the series, Coach Chuck Daly and team captain Thomas decided that their best chance to seize control of the Eastern Conference would be through a more aggressive style of play.

Prior to the 1986–87 season, the 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 team reached the Eastern Conference Finals, the farthest it had advanced since moving from Fort Wayne, against the Celtics. After pushing the defending champions to a 2–2 tie, the Pistons were on the verge of winning Game 5 at the Boston Garden with seconds remaining. After a Celtics' turnover, Isiah Thomas attempted to quickly inbound the ball and missed Daly's timeout signal from the bench (the NBA had not yet instituted the rule that allowed coaches to call timeout themselves). Larry Bird stole the inbound pass and passed it to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup. While the Pistons would win Game 6 in Detroit, they would lose the series in a tough Game 7 back in Boston.

Motivated by their loss to the Celtics, the 1988 Pistons, aided by midseason acquisition James Edwards, improved to a then-franchise-record 54 victories and the franchise's first Central Division title. In the postseason, the 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 Pistons' first trip to the Finals 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 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-minute free throws by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar following a controversial foul called on Bill Laimbeer, referred to by many Piston supporters, and Laimbeer himself, as a "phantom foul." With Isiah Thomas unable to compete at full strength, the Pistons narrowly fell in Game 7, 108–105.

Prior to the 1988–89 season, the Pistons moved to Auburn Hills to play at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The 1989 Pistons completed the building of their roster by trading Dantley for Mark Aguirre, a trade that Piston fans would criticize heavily initially, but later praise. The team won 63 games, shattering the old franchise record, and steamrolled through the playoffs and into a NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers. This time the Pistons came out victorious in a four-game sweep to win their first NBA championship. Joe Dumars was named NBA Finals MVP. Game 4 of the series marked the final game of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career.

The Pistons successfully defended their title in 1990. After winning 59 games and a third straight division title, the Pistons cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs and advanced to the eastern conference finals for the 4th straight year, before playing a tough Eastern Conference Finals series against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Facing each other for the third straight season, the Pistons and Bulls split the first six games before the Pistons finished the series with a decisive 93–74 victory in Game 7.[4] Advancing to their third consecutive NBA Finals, the Pistons faced the Portland Trail Blazers. After splitting the first two games at The Palace, the Pistons went to Portland, where they had not won a game since 1974, to play Games 3, 4 and 5. The Pistons summarily 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 an 18 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.

1991–2000: Dormancy

The Pistons' championship run came to an end in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, where the battered and bruised Pistons were swept by the eventual NBA champion Chicago Bulls, 4 games to 0. The most critical Piston injury belonged to Isiah Thomas who had surgery on his wrist just prior to the Playoffs. The Conference Finals were best remembered for the Pistons walking off court in the last game just before it ended, unwilling to shake hands with the Bulls. After the series, Jordan said he was "shocked that Isiah didn't play as hard." Following this, the franchise went through a lengthy transitional period, as key players either retired (Laimbeer in 1993 and Thomas in 1994) or were traded (Edwards, Johnson, Salley and Rodman among others). The team quickly declined, bottoming out in the 1993–94 season when they finished 20–62.

1994–1999: Grant Hill era

Detroit Pistons "teal era" logo 1996–2001.

The team's fortunes improved after that season, but the rebuilding process soon sputtered. As a result of the poor finish in the 1994 season, the Pistons were able to draft Grant Hill, a promising small forward. However, this period also saw the team make numerous questionable personnel decisions, such as the loss of free agent Allan Houston to the New York Knicks,[5] the signing of free agent wash-outs Christian Laettner, Loy Vaught, Cedric Ceballos, and the late Bison Dele; and head coaching changes from Ron Rothstein to Don Chaney to Doug Collins to Alvin Gentry to George Irvine in an eight-year span. Of those coaches, only Collins had any sort of success with the Pistons, winning 54 games in the 1996–97 season. The franchise even changed its team colors in 1996 from its traditional red, white, and blue to teal, burgundy, gold and black in what proved to be a highly unpopular move with fans. This period has become known, derisively, as the "teal era."

2000–2008: "Goin' to Work" era and Return to championship contention

Detroit Pistons logo 2001–2005. The logo marked the return of the traditional colors.

2003–04 season: Third NBA Championship

After being swept by the Miami Heat in the 2000 playoffs, Joe Dumars (who had retired following the 1999 season) was hired as the team's president of basketball operations. He quickly faced what appeared to be a setback for the franchise, as Grant Hill elected to leave the team for the Orlando Magic. However, Dumars managed to work a sign and trade with Orlando that brought the Pistons Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins in exchange for Hill. Both quickly entered the Pistons' starting lineup, and Wallace would develop into an All-Star in the coming years. Conversely, Hill would play only 47 games in the following four seasons due to a recurring ankle injury.

The Pistons suffered through another tough season in 2000–01, going 32–50. After the season, Dumars fired head coach George Irvine and hired Rick Carlisle, a widely respected assistant coach who had been a tough substitute contributor for the Celtics during the mid-1980s. In the fall of 2001, the franchise also returned to its red, white and blue uniforms.

Detroit Pistons alternate logo 20012005. Modern version of "Bad Boys" logo.

Carlisle helped lead the Pistons to their first 50-win season since 1997, and their first playoff series victory since 1991. In the summer of 2002, Dumars revamped the Pistons' roster by signing free agent Chauncey Billups, acquiring Richard "Rip" Hamilton from the Washington Wizards, and by drafting Tayshaun Prince from Kentucky. The Pistons posted consecutive 50-win seasons and advanced to the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals, for the first time since 1991. There, however, they were swept in four games by the New Jersey Nets.

Despite the team's improvement, Carlisle was fired in the 2003 offseason. There were believed to be five reasons for the firing: first, that Carlisle had appeared reluctant to play some of the team's younger players, such as Tayshaun and Mehmet Okur, during the regular season, which had upset Dumars; second, that some of the players (notably Wallace) had not gotten along with Carlisle; third, that Carlisle employed an offensive system that was too conservative; fourth, that Hall of Famer Larry Brown had become available; and finally fifth, that Carlisle was rumored to be interested in the Pacers head coaching job during the Pistons' 2003 playoff run. Brown accepted the job that summer and Carlisle landed the job in Indiana as expected.

The Pistons are honored at theWhite House by George W. Bush for the team's victory in the 2004 NBA Finals.

The Pistons' transformation into a championship team was completed with the February 2004 acquisition of Rasheed Wallace. The Pistons now had another big man to pose a threat from all parts of the court. The Pistons finished the season 54–28, recording their best record since 1997. In the 2004 playoffs, after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games, they defeated the defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets in seven games after coming back from a 3–2 deficit. Detroit then defeated the Indiana Pacers, coached by Carlisle, in six tough games to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1990.

Many analysts gave the Pistons little chance to win against their opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers, who had won three out of the previous four NBA championships, and who fielded a star-studded lineup that included Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone. However, the Pistons won the series in dominating fashion, defeating Los Angeles in five games for the team's third NBA Championship. The Pistons posted double-digit wins in three of their four victories, and their defense held the Lakers to a franchise-low 68 points in Game 3. Chauncey Billups was named NBA Finals MVP. With the win, Pistons owner William Davidson became the first (and to this date, the only) owner to win both NBA and NHL championships in the same year, having won the Stanley Cup as owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

2004–05 season

Despite losing key members of their bench during the offseason (including Okur, Mike James and Corliss Williamson), the Pistons were considered a strong contender to win a second consecutive title in 2005. They won 54 games during the regular season, their fourth consecutive season of 50 or more wins. During the 2005 playoffs, they easily defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4–1 and then rallied from a 2–1 deficit to finish off the Pacers, 4–2. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons faced the Heat. Once again Detroit fell behind, but won Eastern Conference Championship in seven games. In the Finals the Pistons faced the Spurs. In the first NBA Finals Game 7 since 1994, the Pistons lost a hard-fought game with the Spurs, who won their third NBA championship since 1999.

The Pistons' 2004–05 season was marked by a major controversy, as well as distracting issues involving Larry Brown. In the first month of the season, the Malice at the Palace erupted, one of the largest fan-player incidents in the history of American sports. It resulted in heavy fines and suspensions for several players, and a great deal of NBA and media scrutiny. Meanwhile, Brown was forced to leave the team on two occasions due to health concerns, and also became involved in a series of rumors linking him to other job openings. Concerned about Brown's health, and angered over his alleged pursuit of other jobs during the season, the Pistons bought out his contract soon after the 2005 NBA Finals. Brown was promptly named head coach of the New York Knicks, and the Pistons hired Flip Saunders, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

2005–06 season

Detroit Pistons logo 20052017. The logo merged the original "Bad Boys" logo with the secondary Pistons logo of 2001-2005.

During the 2005–06 season, the Pistons recorded the NBA's best overall record. Their 37–5 start exceeded the best start for any Detroit sports franchise in history [6] and tied for the second-best 42-game start in NBA history. Four of the five Piston starters, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace, were named to the All-Star team, and Flip Saunders served as the Eastern Conference All-Star team coach. The Pistons finished the regular season with a record of 64–18, setting new franchise records for both overall and road victories (27). In addition, the team set an NBA record by starting the same lineup in 73 consecutive games from the start of the season.

The top-seeded Pistons defeated the Bucks 4–1 in the first round of the 2006 NBA Playoffs, but struggled in the second round against the Cavaliers, falling behind 3–2 before winning in seven games. Things did not improve against second-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami defeated the Pistons in six games en route to the 2006 NBA championship.

2006–07 season

Detroit Pistons alternate logo used from 20052017.

During the 2006 offseason, the Pistons offered Ben Wallace a four-year, $48 million contract which would have made him the highest-paid Piston ever. However, Wallace agreed to a 4-year, $60 million contract with the Chicago Bulls.[6]

To replace Ben Wallace, the Pistons signed Nazr Mohammed as a center. He struggled to fill the team's void at center, however, and the team began looking for additional help. On January 17, the Pistons signed Chris Webber, who had become a free agent. The Pistons quickly began playing better basketball and, according to Newsday, started "to get their swagger back." [7] The Pistons were only 21–15 before Webber was acquired; with him, the team went 32–14. On April 11, the Pistons clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference, which guaranteed them home-court advantage for first three rounds of the playoffs.

The Pistons opened the 2007 NBA Playoffs with a 4–0 victory over the Orlando Magic, their first playoff series sweep since 1990. The team advanced to face the Bulls, marking the first time that the Central Division rivals had met in the postseason since 1991. After winning the first two games by 26 and 21 points, the Pistons overcame a 19-point deficit to win Game 3, 81–74. Chicago avoided elimination by winning Games 4 and 5, but the Pistons closed out the series, 95–85, in Game 6. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth consecutive time (equaling their streak from 1987–1991)—one short of the NBA record set by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons won games 1 and 2, but lost 4 in a row to the Cavaliers.

2007–08 season

Following the 2007 season, the Pistons traded Carlos Delfino to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for 2009 and 2011 second-round draft picks. In the 2007 NBA Draft the Pistons selected Rodney Stuckey as the 15th overall pick and Arron Afflalo as the 27th overall pick. [8] They also re-signed Billups to a long-term contract, as well as re-signing top prospect Amir Johnson and key reserve Antonio McDyess. This season marked the 50th anniversary of the franchise in Detroit, so The Palace of Auburn Hills floor was given a retouch, as the 50th anniversary logo was encased on center court, and blue replaced red on the sideline, retaining red on the baseline surrounding the basket with the words "Detroit Pistons." The remainder of the court remained unchanged. This marked the first time since their first season at the Pontiac Silverdome (1978–79) that the sideline of the Pistons floor will be painted blue, as opposed to their traditional red.

At the start of the 2008 season, Rasheed Wallace became the Pistons' new center. Upon entering his third season as Pistons coach, Saunders became the longest-tenured Pistons coach since Chuck Daly's nine-year tenure (1983–92). Detroit finished the season 59–23, with the second-best record in the league. The Celtics held the first seed, and many speculated that Boston was their main competition in the Eastern Conference. In the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Detroit started out poorly with a Game 1 loss to the seventh-seeded 76ers and found themselves in a 2-games-to-1 deficit. But the Pistons rallied to defeat the Sixers in six games.

Meanwhile in the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Detroit rolled out to a Game 1 romp of the Orlando Magic, and won a tight Game 2 amid mild controversy. At the very end of the third quarter, Billups hit a three-point field goal that gave the Pistons a three-point lead. However, the clock had stopped shortly into the play. League rules currently prohibit officials from using both instant replay and a timing device to measure how much time has elapsed when a clock malfunctions, nor is a replay from the time of the malfunction onward allowed. The officials estimated that the play took 4.6 seconds, and since there were 5.1 seconds remaining when it began, the field goal was counted. The NBA later admitted that the play actually took 5.7 seconds and the basket should not have counted.[7]

In addition to losing Game 3 badly, 111–86, the Pistons also lost all-star point guard and team leader Chauncey Billups to a hamstring injury. Despite his absence, the Pistons rallied from 15 down in the third quarter to win Game 4 90–89, on a field goal by Tayshaun Prince with just 8.9 seconds to play, taking a 3–1 series lead. Again with Billups sitting on the sideline, they then proceeded to win Game 5 in Detroit, winning the series 4 games to 1.

Detroit advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth straight season, squaring off against the Boston Celtics. This put the Detroit Pistons second on the all-time list of most consecutive conference final appearances, only behind the Lakers who appeared in 8 straight conference finals from the 1981-82 to 1988-89 seasons.[8] They lost Game 1 88-79, but won in game two on the road, 103–97 (marking Boston's first home court loss in the 2008 postseason). Immediately following that, the Celtics won their first road playoff game of the post-season, 94–80, in game three. Game four saw the Pistons win 94–75. In the pivotal fifth game, they lost 106–102, despite rallying from 18 points down late in the game. In Game 6, the Pistons entered the fourth quarter leading 70–60, but a lack of focus, a poor game from Rasheed Wallace, and a rally-killing turnover by Tayshaun Prince ultimately led to their demise; the Pistons ended their season with an 89–81 loss. After that, the Celtics went on to win the 2008 NBA Finals. On June 3, 2008, the Pistons announced that head coach Flip Saunders would not return as head coach for the 2008–09 regular season.[9]

2008–present: Rebuilding

2008–09: The end of an era and a start of rebuilding

On June 10, 2008 the Pistons named first-year assistant coach and former players' union representative Michael Curry as their new head coach for the 2008–09 season.[10] In July, the Pistons signed guard Will Bynum and center Kwame Brown. On November 3, 2008, the Pistons traded Billups, McDyess and Cheikh Samb to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson.[11] McDyess was later waived on November 10 and rejoined the Pistons on December 9, 2008.

Detroit's sellout streak at The Palace of Auburn Hills ended on February 4, 2009 in a 93–90 win over the Miami Heat. The streak began on January 19, 2004, the year the Pistons won their third NBA title, and was the franchise's longest sellout streak at 259.[12]

Despite the trade for Iverson, the Pistons regressed during the season, partly due to Curry's controversial moves and disrupted team chemistry, including playing Iverson and Hamilton as sixth men. Many speculate that because Iverson could not be a starter, he refused to play entirely; Iverson would later end up on the injured reserved list for the rest of the season citing back problems. The Pistons were also plagued with injuries to several key starters, namely Sheed and Rip, who suffered lengthy absences. As a result, the Pistons dropped further down the standings, only clinching a playoff berth on April 10, 2009, good for the #8 seed. The season marked the first time since the 2000–01 season that the Pistons failed to reach 50 wins and had a losing season, finishing with a 39–43 record. The Pistons were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs. It was the first time the Pistons had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs since 2000.

2009–10 season

In the 2009 NBA Draft, the Pistons selected Austin Daye of Gonzaga University with the 15th pick. The Pistons also took DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko in the second round.

On June 30, 2009, Joe Dumars fired Michael Curry as the head coach after only one season. Avery Johnson, a former head coach for the Dallas Mavericks, and Doug Collins, a former head coach for the Bulls, Pistons, and Wizards, were both considered candidates. On July 1, 2009, the Pistons reached an agreement with the former Bulls guard Ben Gordon on a 5 year/$55 million contract, as well as an agreement with former Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva on a 5 year contract worth $35 million. That same month, Pistons lost one of their key starters, Rasheed Wallace, to free agency, signing a two year, $5.58 million contract with the Celtics. Following the departure of Wallace, McDyess signed a one-year contract with the Spurs for the mid-level exception. On July 8, 2009 Dumars hired former Cavaliers assistant coach John Kuester to be the Pistons new head coach.[13] The next front court move was the signing of former New York Knicks power forward Chris Wilcox to a multi-year contract, hoping he can regain his form as displayed with his Seattle tenure. Per team policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed.[14]

In the offseason, the Pistons added two veterans to the roster, both former Pistons players. Center Ben Wallace to a one year $1.3 million contract[15] and a point guard Chucky Atkins to a non guaranteed contract.

Despite these changes, the Pistons regressed even further, hampered by injuries to key players including Hamilton, Prince and Gordon. On March 23, 2010, the Pistons were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Indiana Pacers, assuring their first Draft Lottery appearance and their first 50-loss season since 2001. The Pistons finished with a 27-55 record, and were last in the Central Division. It was their worst record since 1994.

2010–11 season

In the 2010 NBA Draft, the Pistons selected Greg Monroe of Georgetown University with the 7th pick. The Pistons also took Terrico White of the University of Mississippi in the second round.

In the offseason, the Pistons signed veteran Tracy McGrady to a one-year contract,[16] and re-signed Ben Wallace and Will Bynum to 2 and 3-year contracts, respectively.[17][18] Chris Wilcox also exercised his player option, from the 2-year contract he signed in 2009,[19] so he could stay with the Pistons.[20]

On February 11, 2011, the Pistons announced that they will retire the #10 jersey of Dennis Rodman on April 1, 2011, during halftime of a game against the Chicago Bulls.[21] Greg Monroe, who currently wears Rodman's #10, may continue to wear the number until either his departure or decision to change numbers, after which it may never be worn again.

2011–2015: New ownership; more struggling

Andre Drummond was selected by the Pistons with the ninth overall pick in 2012 NBA draft.

On April 7, 2011, Karen Davidson, the widow of the late Bill Davidson, reached a long-awaited agreement to sell the franchise to billionaire Tom Gores, which was approved by the NBA Board of Governors in May. The deal also included The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre. According to Crain's Detroit Business, the final sale price was $325 million, far lower than expected. In the 2011 NBA Draft, the Pistons selected Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler and Vernon Macklin.

Prior to the start of the 2011–12 season, the Pistons made several leadership changes, including appointing Dennis Mannion as president of the franchise and Palace Sports & Entertainment. The team decided to hire Lawrence Frank as the head coach. The 2011–12 season was an improvement from the previous years for the Pistons, although they still posted a losing record. While they started the season 4–20, they won half their remaining games to finish a lockout-shortened season with a record of 25–41. The team continued to build its young core with the drafting of the talented center Andre Drummond.

Following the 2012–13 season, Frank was fired as head coach on April 18, 2013, after two losing seasons, and on June 10, 2013, the Pistons hired former player and coach, Maurice Cheeks. His tenure lasted for just a bit more than half a season, as he was replaced by interim coach John Loyer. In April, the Pistons announced that Joe Dumars would step down as president of basketball operations, yet remain as an advisor to the organization and its ownership team. On May 14, 2014, Stan Van Gundy was hired. Van Gundy signed a 5-year, $35 million contract to become the head coach and president of basketball operations for the team.

After starting the 2014–15 season with a 5–23 record, the Pistons waived Josh Smith, who was acquired in the summer of 2013. The team went on a lengthy winning streak, but would only finish the season with a record of 32–50 after Brandon Jennings' Achilles injury.

2015–2016: Return to the playoffs

In the 2015 offseason, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy began to change the roster to his liking by making such acquisitions as Ersan İlyasova, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, and Steve Blake. They also drafted rookie Stanley Johnson with the eighth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and re-signed point guard Reggie Jackson. The Pistons entered the 2015–16 season with a stronger roster than the previous season, although they lost starter Greg Monroe to the Milwaukee Bucks in free agency. Andre Drummond started the season strong, earning himself the honor of consecutive Eastern Conference Player of the Week awards for the weeks of November 1 and 8.

The Pistons entered the All-Star break at 27–27. The Pistons did surpass their win totals from the 2009–10 season to the 2014–15 season on March 9, 2016, when Detroit defeated the Dallas Mavericks 102–96. On April 6, 2016, following a 108–104 win over the Orlando Magic, the Pistons reached 42 wins and were assured their first winning season since the 2007–08 season. On April 8, 2016, the Pistons defeated the Washington Wizards 112–99 and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2009. The eighth-seeded Pistons faced the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. They were swept in four games in a highly-competitive series by the eventual champion.

2017–present: Returning to downtown Detroit

Beginning with the 1978–79 season, the Pistons played their home games in suburban Oakland County (directly north of Detroit/Wayne County), first playing ten seasons at the Pontiac Silverdome, and then began play at The Palace of Auburn Hills starting in the 1988–89 season. Pistons owner Tom Gores, Palace Sports & Entertainment vice chairman Arn Tellum, and Olympia Entertainment, the Ilitch family's holding company that controls the Red Wings and Tigers, had been in negotiations over a partnership since the summer of 2015, with the Pistons possibly relocating to the new Little Caesars Arena as soon as the 2017–18 season. Talks intensified just as the Pistons were set to open their 2016–17 season, and as part of the terms of the agreement, there was discussion of a possible merger between Olympia and PS&E. Also contingent on a finalized agreement, the Pistons were looking for a parcel of land in the arena's vicinity, to build a new practice facility and team headquarters. The leasing agreement/partnership needed both city and league approval to be finalized.

On November 22, 2016, the Pistons officially announced their intention to move to Little Caesars Arena, and the site of The Palace of Auburn Hills would be redeveloped and sold, with the arena likely to be demolished as part of the redevelopment. From 1999, when the Lakers relocated from The Forum in suburban Inglewood to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, until the end of the 2016–17 season, the Pistons remained the only NBA franchise to play in a suburban location, ending a 39-year stay in Oakland County.

On June 20, 2017, Detroit City Council approved the Pistons' move to Little Caesars Arena. On August 3, 2017, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the move, which made it official. The move made Detroit the only U.S. city to have its Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL), NBA, and NHL teams play in its downtown district, and one of only two U.S. cities to have said teams play in one place, the other being Philadelphia.

On January 29, 2018, the Pistons announced they had acquired all-star forward Blake Griffin, along with Willie Reed and Brice Johnson, from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, a 2018 first-round draft pick and a 2019 second-round draft pick.

The Pistons finished the 2017–18 season with a 39–43 record. They missed the playoffs for the eighth time in ten years. On May 7, 2018, the Pistons announced that Stan Van Gundy would not return as head coach and president of basketball operations. On June 11, 2018, Dwane Casey was hired by the Pistons to be their new head coach, agreeing to a five-year deal. The Pistons finished the 2018–19 season with a 41–41 record, clinching a playoff spot as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. In the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Pistons were swept in four games by the Milwaukee Bucks, setting an NBA record for the most consecutive playoff losses with 14.

Media coverage


The Pistons flagship radio station is WXYT-FM 97.1 FM. WWJ 950 AM flagships Pistons games which conflict with WXYT-FM's coverage of Detroit Lions, Tigers or Red Wings games. There are several affiliate stations throughout Michigan.[22] The regular radio announcers are Mark Champion with play-by-play and Rick Mahorn with color commentary.


The Pistons' current exclusive local television rights holder is Fox Sports Detroit.[23] The regular TV announcers are George Blaha with play-by-play, Greg Kelser with color commentary, Mateen Cleaves with studio analysis and Eli Zaret with sideline reports.



Season-by-season records

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage

Season W L % Playoffs Results
Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons (NBL)
1941-42 15 9 .625 Won NBL Semifinals
Lost NBL Championship
Fort Wayne 2, Akron 1
Oshkosh 2, Fort Wayne 1
1942-43 17 6 .739 Won NBL Semifinals
Lost NBL Championship
Fort Wayne 2, Chicago 1
Sheboygan 2, Fort Wayne 1
1943-44 18 4 .818 Won NBL Semifinals
Won NBL Championship
Fort Wayne 2, Cleveland 0
Fort Wayne 3, Sheboygan 0
1944-45 25 5 .833 Won Division Semifinals
Won NBL Championship
Fort Wayne 2, Cleveland 0
Fort Wayne 3, Sheboygan 2
1945-46 26 8 .765 Lost Division Semifinals Rochester 3, Fort Wayne 1
1946-47 25 19 .568 Won Opening Round
Lost Division Semifinals
Fort Wayne 3, Toledo 2
Rochester 2, Fort Wayne 1
1947-48 40 20 .667 Lost Opening Round Rochester 3, Fort Wayne 1
Fort Wayne Pistons
1948-49 22 38 .367
1949-50 40 28 .588 Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
Fort Wayne 2, Rochester 0
Minneapolis 2, Fort Wayne 0
1950-51 32 36 .471 Lost Division Semifinals Rochester 2, Fort Wayne 1
1951-52 29 37 .439 Lost Division Semifinals Rochester 2, Fort Wayne 0
1952-53 36 33 .522 Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
Fort Wayne 2, Rochester 1
Minneapolis 3, Fort Wayne 2
1953-54 40 32 .556 Lost Round-Robin
Lost Round-Robin
Rochester 2, Fort Wayne 0
Minneapolis 2, Fort Wayne 0
1954-55 43 29 .597 Won Division Finals
Lost NBA Finals
Fort Wayne 3, Minneapolis 1
Syracuse 4, Fort Wayne 3
1955-56 37 35 .514 Won Division Finals
Lost NBA Finals
Fort Wayne 3, St. Louis 2
Philadelphia 4, Fort Wayne 1
1956-57 34 38 .472 Lost Division Semifinals Minneapolis 2, Fort Wayne 0
Detroit Pistons
1957-58 33 39 .458 Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
Detroit 2, Cincinnati 0
St. Louis 4, Detroit 1
1958-59 28 44 .389 Lost Division Semifinals Minneapolis 2, Detroit 1
1959-60 30 45 .400 Lost Division Semifinals Minneapolis 2, Detroit 0
1960-61 34 45 .430 Lost Division Semifinals Los Angeles 3, Detroit 2
1961-62 37 43 .463 Won Division Semifinals
Lost Division Finals
Detroit 3, Cincinnati 1
Los Angeles 4, Detroit 2
1962-63 34 46 .425 Lost Division Semifinals St. Louis 3, Detroit 1
1963-64 23 57 .288
1964-65 31 49 .388
1965-66 22 58 .275
1966-67 30 51 .370
1967-68 40 42 .488 Lost Division Semifinals Boston 4, Detroit 2
1968-69 32 50 .390
1969-70 31 51 .378
1970-71 45 37 .549
1971-72 26 56 .317
1972-73 40 42 .488
1973-74 52 30 .634 Lost Conference Semifinals Chicago 4, Detroit 3
1974-75 40 42 .488 Lost First Round Seattle 2, Detroit 1
1975-76 36 46 .439 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Detroit 2, Milwaukee 1
Golden State 4, Detroit 2
1976-77 44 38 .537 Lost First Round Golden State 2, Detroit 1
1977-78 38 44 .463
1978-79 30 52 .366
1979-80 16 66 .195
1980-81 21 61 .256
1981-82 39 43 .476
1982-83 37 45 .451
1983-84 49 33 .598 Lost First Round New York 3, Detroit 2
1984-85 46 36 .561 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Detroit 3, New Jersey 0
Boston 4, Detroit 2
1985-86 46 36 .561 Lost First Round Atlanta 3, Detroit 1
1986-87 52 30 .634 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Detroit 3, Washington 0
Detroit 4, Atlanta 1
Boston 4, Detroit 3
1987-88 54 28 .659 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
Detroit 3, Washington 2
Detroit 4, Chicago 1
Detroit 4, Boston 2
LA Lakers 4, Detroit 3
1988-89 63 19 .768 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Won NBA Finals
Detroit 3, Boston 0
Detroit 4, Milwaukee 0
Detroit 4, Chicago 2
Detroit 4, LA Lakers 0
1989-90 59 23 .720 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Won NBA Finals
Detroit 3, Indiana 0
Detroit 4, New York 1
Detroit 4, Chicago 3
Detroit 4, Portland 1
1990-91 50 32 .610 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Detroit 3, Atlanta 2
Detroit 4, Boston 2
Chicago 4, Detroit 0
1991-92 48 34 .585 Lost First Round New York 3, Detroit 2
1992-93 40 42 .488
1993-94 20 62 .244
1994-95 28 54 .341
1995-96 46 36 .561 Lost First Round Orlando 3, Detroit 0
1996-97 54 28 .659 Lost First Round Atlanta 3, Detroit 2
1997-98 37 45 .451
1998-99 29 21 .580 Lost First Round Atlanta 3, Detroit 2
1999-00 42 40 .512 Lost First Round Miami 3, Detroit 0
2000-01 32 50 .390
2001-02 50 32 .610 Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
Detroit 3, Toronto 2
Boston 4, Detroit 1
2002-03 50 32 .610 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Detroit 4, Orlando 3
Detroit 4, Philadelphia 2
New Jersey 4, Detroit 0
2003-04 54 28 .659 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Won NBA Finals
Detroit 4, Milwaukee 1
Detroit 4, New Jersey 3
Detroit 4, Indiana 2
Detroit 4, LA Lakers 1
2004-05 54 28 .659 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
Detroit 4, Philadelphia 1
Detroit 4, Indiana 2
Detroit 4, Miami 3
San Antonio 4, Detroit 3
2005-06 64 18 .780 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Detroit 4, Milwaukee 1
Detroit 4, Cleveland 3
Miami 4, Detroit 2
2006-07 53 29 .646 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Detroit 4, Orlando 0
Detroit 4, Chicago 2
Cleveland 4, Detroit 2
2007-08 59 23 .720 Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
Detroit 4, Philadelphia 2
Detroit 4, Orlando 1
Boston 4, Detroit 2
2008-09 39 43 .476 Lost First Round Cleveland 4, Detroit 0
2009-10 27 55 .329
2010-11 30 52 .366
2011-12 25 41 .379
2012-13 29 53 .354
2013-14 29 53 .354
2014-15 32 50 .390
2015-16 44 38 .537 Lost First Round Cleveland 4, Detroit 0
2016-17 37 45 .451
2017-18 39 43 .476
2018-19 41 41 .500 Lost First Round Milwaukee 4, Detroit 0
2019-20 20 46 .303
2020-21 20 52 .278
2021-22 23 59 .280
Totals 2753 2927 .485
Playoffs 200 169 .542 3 Championships

Home arenas

Fort Wayne Pistons

Detroit Pistons


  • March 12, 1960, the Pistons hosted a playoff game against Los Angeles at Grosse Pointe High School when no other facility was available.
  • April 27, 1984, the Pistons played Game 5 of their playoff series against New York in Joe Louis Arena due to a scheduling conflict.
  • During the 1984–85 season, the Silverdome's roof collapsed, causing the team to temporarily relocate back to Joe Louis Arena (for 15 home games) and Cobo Arena (for one game).

Home attendance at The Palace of Auburn Hills

Home Attendance at The Palace of Auburn Hills
Year Total Attendance
2000–2001 607,323
2001–2002 760,807
2002–2003 839,278
2003-2004 872,902
2004-2005 905,116
2005-2006 905,116
2006-2007 905,116
2007-2008 905,116
2008-2009 896,971
2009-2010 768,826



Current Roster

  • 18 - Jordan Bone
  • 6 - Bruce Brown
  • 45 - Sekou Doumbouya
  • 9 - Langston Galloway
  • 23 - Blake Griffin
  • 42 - Donta Hall
  • 31 - John Henson
  • 5 - Luke Kennard
  • 14 - Louis King
  • 20 - Brandon Knight
  • 7 - Thon Maker
  • 52 - Jordan McRae
  • 19 - Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
  • 25 - Derrick Rose
  • 17 - Tony Snell
  • 13 - Khyri Thomas
  • 35 - Christian Wood

Basketball Hall of Fame members

Bing, Daly, Davidson, DeBusschere, Dumars, Lanier, Thomas, Yardley and Zollner have also been inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

Retired numbers

All of the Pistons retired numbers are currently hanging in the rafters of Little Caesars Arena.

Detroit Pistons retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
1 Chauncey Billups G 2002–2008
2 Chuck Daly Head coach 1983–1992
3 Ben Wallace C 2000–2006
4 Joe Dumars G 1985–1999
10 Dennis Rodman F 1986–1993
11 Isiah Thomas G 1981–1994
15 Vinnie Johnson G 1981–1991
16 Bob Lanier C 1970–1980
21 Dave Bing G 1966–1975
32 Richard Hamilton G/F 2002–2011
40 Bill Laimbeer C 1982–1994
Bill Davidson Owner 1974–2009
Jack McCloskey General manager 1979–1992


  • Reggie Jackson wore the number 1 at the time it was retired for Chauncey Billups (2015–2020).
  • Chuck Daly never played in the NBA; number represents the two NBA championship teams he coached.
  • Stanley Johnson wore the number 3 at the time it was retired for Ben Wallace.
  • Joe Dumars was team president from 2000 to 2014.
  • Greg Monroe wore the number 10 at the time it was retired for Dennis Rodman (2010–2015).
  • Bill Davidson's banner was raised to honor his 35 years with the team.
  • Jack McCloskey's banner was raised to honor his 13 years as the team's general manager.

Recent Draftees

Note: The rights to Budinger were traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for the rights to future second round draft pick and cash considerations
Note: The rights to White were traded to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for the rights to Seattle's draft picks Walter Sharpe (round 2, pick 32) and Trent Plaisted (round 2, pick 46)


Head coaches

  • Dwane Casey, 2018–present
  • Stan Van Gundy, 2014–18
  • John Loyer, 2014
  • Maurice Cheeks, 2013–14
  • Lawrence Frank, 2011–13
  • John Kuester, 2009–11
  • Michael Curry, 2008–09
  • Flip Saunders, 2005–08
  • Larry Brown, 2003–05
  • Rick Carlisle, 2001–03
  • George Irvine, 1999–2000
  • Alvin Gentry, 1997–98
  • Doug Collins, 1995–97
  • Don Chaney, 1993–95
  • Ron Rothstein, 1992–93
  • Chuck Daly, 1983–92
  • Scotty Robertson, 1980–83
  • Richie Adubato, 1979–80
  • Dick Vitale, 1978–80
  • Bob Kauffman, 1977–78
  • Herb Brown, 1975–78
  • Ray Scott, 1972–76
  • Earl Lloyd, 1971–73
  • Terry Dischinger, 1971
  • Bill Van Breda Kolff, 1969–71
  • Paul Seymour, 1969
  • Donnie Butcher, 1967–69
  • Dave DeBusschere, player-coach 1965–67
  • Charles Wolf, 1963–65
  • Dick McGuire, 1960–63
  • Red Rocha, 1958–60
  • Charles Eckman, 1954–58
  • Paul Birch, 1951–54
  • Murray Mendenhall, 1949–51
  • Paul Armstrong, 1949
  • Carl Bennett, 1948–49

General managers

  • Fred Delano (1957–1958)
  • W. Nicholas Kerbawy (1958–1961)
  • Fran Smith (1961–1964)
  • Don Wattrick (1964–1966)
  • Edwin Coil (1966–1975)
  • Oscar Feldman (1975–1979)
  • Jack McCloskey (1979–1994)
  • Billy McKinney (1994–1995)
  • Rick Sund (1995–2000)
  • Joe Dumars (2000–2014)
  • Jeff Bower (2014–2018)
  • Ed Stefanski (2018–present)


  • Lakers–Pistons rivalry
  • Bulls–Pistons rivalry
  • Pistons–Celtics rivalry
  • Pistons–Magic rivalry


Preceded by
Los Angeles Lakers
1987 & 1988
NBA Champions
Detroit Pistons

1989 & 1990
Succeeded by
Chicago Bulls
1991 & 1992 & 1993
Preceded by
San Antonio Spurs
NBA Champions
Detroit Pistons

Succeeded by
San Antonio Spurs


  1. The Wizard of Odds: How Jack Molinas Almost Destroyed the Game of Basketball. By Charley Rosen. p. 154. 2001 Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1-58322-268-5
  2. "Syracuse Five Defeats Pistons in N.B.A. Play-Off Final, 92–91," The New York Times, April 11, 1955, p. 31.
  3. "City Hails Nats' World Title Triumph," Syracuse Herald-Journal, April 11, 1955, pp. 1, 45.
  4. [1]
  5. [2] after the 46-win 1996 season PISTONS: Detroit Pistons 1990′s
  6. Ben Wallace makes it official, signs with Bulls - NBA - ESPN
  7. ESPN - After review, NBA says Billups' 3-pointer should not have counted - NBA
  8. [3]
  9. McCosky, Chris (2008-06-03). "Pistons Fire Saunders". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  10. C. Gerstner, Joanne (2008-06-10). "Curry: We're playing to put up another banner". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-06-10. 
  11. Pistons acquire Iverson for Billups, McDyess, Samb
  12. Palace sellout streak ends after five years, 259 games
  13. Pistons hire John Kuester as coach
  14. [4]
  15. McCosky, Chris (August 7, 2009). "Pistons re-sign Ben Wallace for 1 year". The Detroit News. 
  16. Pistons Sign Free Agent Guard/Forward Tracy McGrady
  21. "Pistons to retire Dennis Rodman's No. 10 jersey"
  22. Detroit Pistons Radio Network affiliates
  23. FSN Detroit Nets Pro Sports 3 pointer
  24. [5] ESPN NBA Attendance Report


External links

Preceded by
Los Angeles Lakers
1987 & 1988
NBA Champions
Detroit Pistons

1989 & 1990
Succeeded by
Chicago Bulls
1991 & 1992 & 1993
Preceded by
San Antonio Spurs
NBA Champions
Detroit Pistons

Succeeded by
San Antonio Spurs


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