The Bad Boy Pistons almost didn’t happen

We are three games into the the Detroit Pistons Killian Hayes era and some of the geniuses that follow the team have already determined the 19 year old rookie to be a bust.

How they’ve made that determination so quickly is beyond me, but the noise was loud enough for Pistons coach Dwayne Casey to address the issue and caution fans to remain patient with the young man. I cannot tell you whether he will be boom or bust. It’s just too soon for that.

Sometimes it pays to be patient. This isn’t the first time Pistons fans have been edgy about a young Pistons point guard. Isiah Thomas and the championship Bad Boy Pistons almost didn’t happen. Pistons fans wanted to give up on Thomas because they believed that it was impossible to win an NBA title with a team built around a 6-foot-1 point guard.

They thought the best plan of attack was to trade Thomas to the Houston Rockets for 7-4 center/power forward Ralph Sampson. The sad thing is the Pistons were listening. That would have been a disaster.

By the time Thomas was on the brink of winning his first championship we witnessed a broken down 29 year old Sampson auditioning to get a shot with the Sacramento Kings.

The Pistons won two NBA championships and advanced to three consecutive NBA Finals with the Bad Boys. Isiah makes every Top players list although he is often ranked too low for our likings. The Pistons played epic series against the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. They delayed the Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls dynasty.

But perhaps the most important game in Pistons history occurred on May 8, 1988 in Game 5 of an opening playoff series against the Washington Bullets at the Pontiac Silverdome.

The Pistons were locked in a death battle with Jeff Malone and Bernard King in a dead locked 2-2 series. If they didn’t win this game the franchise was to be broken up. That probably meant no back to back titles in 1989 and 1990. And it might have derailed the 2004 title also. But the Pistons locked down on the Bullets defensively in Game 5 and Thomas dished out 11 assists as they wore down Washington 99-78.

Good thing patience ruled the day because the Pistons advanced to the NBA Finals where they lost a grueling seven-game series to the Lakers. The following year the Pistons won their first NBA title over Lakers who swept their way to the Finals.

If the Pistons don’t win that playoff game against the Bullets does back to back titles happen? Would Joe Dumars get the chance to build the Going to Work Pistons that advanced to six straight Eastern Conference Finals and won a championship in 2004? Probably not.

That’s why patience and this Bullets game was so significant.

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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

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