No active NBA franchise is older than the Detroit Pistons, who date back to 1941 in the old National Basketball League. Who are their 25 best players?
There is not a franchise in the current NBA that has more history than the Detroit Pistons, who just completed their 75th season.
The club comes from some rather humble beginnings. Fred Zollner was the owner of Zollner Corporation and was pursuaded to start a professional basketball team in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Thus the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons were born in 1941 as part of the old National Basketball League. The Zollner Pistons played seven years in that circuit, winning league championships in 1944 and 1945, before jumping to the upstart Basketball Association of America in 1948.
The Zollner Pistons were an impressive 166-71, a .700 winning percentage, in their time in the NBL, reaching the playoffs each season.
Upon moving to the BAA in 1948, the team name was shortened to Fort Wayne Pistons and the team continued to play its home games at Fort Wayne’s North Side High School until 1952, when they moved into the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
The following season, the remnants of the NBL merged with the BAA to form what would be called the National Basketball Association.
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The club continued in Fort Wayne through the 1956-57 season, making the playoffs in every season but their first in the BAA and reaching the NBA Finals in both 1955 and 1956, falling to the Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia Warriors, respectively.
Competing with markets the size of New York, Boston and Philadelphia proved too daunting for Zollner, who moved the team to Detroit for the 1957-58 season.
Detroit had been home to a charter franchise in the BAA, the Detroit Falcons, in 1946-47. That club folded after just one season.
The Pistons were a playoff team in each of their first six seasons playing at first Olympia Stadium and then Cobo Arena, which became their new home for the 1961-62 season.
Decades of struggles followed, as the team made the postseason just five times in a 20-year span from the 1963-64 season through 1982-83, including a franchise-record six-season drought from 1977-78 to 1982-83.
In 1978, the franchise moved to a new home, leaving downtown for the Pontiac Silverdome in the city’s northern suburbs. In 1988, the Pistons opened The Palace of Auburn Hills, not far from the Silverdome, and have remained there ever since.
The Pistons rose to prominence in the mid-1980s, reaching the conference finals in 1987 for the first time since 1962 and getting to three straight NBA Finals from 1988-90 with a club known as the “Bad Boys” for its tough demeanor and hard-nosed play.
Detroit lost in 1988 to the Los Angeles Lakers before turning the tables on the club that won five titles in the 1980s the following season. A win over the Portland Trail Blazers in 1990 gave the Pistons back-to-back titles.
The club returned to contention in the early 21st century, reaching a record six consecutive conference finals from 2003-08 while winning the NBA title in 2004, again beating the Lakers, and losing a seven-game series to the San Antonio Spurs in 2005.
More struggles ensued shortly thereafter, as the Pistons tied their franchise mark by missing the playoff six straight years from 2010-15 before getting back to the postseason in 2015-16.
In 68 NBA seasons, the Pistons are 2,616-2,752, a .487 winning percentage that places them 19th among the 30 active NBA teams.
Detroit won a franchise-record 64 games in 2005-06. They have topped the 60-win plateau just one other time, in 1988-89.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Pistons have three 60-loss seasons, with the worst being a 16-66 debacle in 1979-80. The club lost 62 games in 1993-94 and 61 games in 1980-81.
There have been 18 general managers in team history. The longest tenured was former Pistons guard Joe Dumars, who was on the job from June 2000 through April 2014.
Jack McCloskey held the post from December 1979 through June 1992 and Edwin Coil manned it from October 1965 through June 1975.
Though Jeff Bower is listed as the general manager, president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van Gundy makes the personnel decisions and has since being hired in May 2014 to both positions.
Dumars is the lone winner of the NBA Executive of the Year award for the franchise, taking the honor in 2002-03.
Van Gundy is the team’s 35th head coach, with a record of 76-88 in the regular season and 0-4 in the playoffs since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Last year, the Pistons were 44-38–their first winning season since 2007-08–and were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hall of Famer Chuck Daly, who led Detroit to the back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990, is the only coach in franchise history with more than 200 wins, posting a record of 467-271 in the regular season and 71-42 in the playoffs from 1983-84 through 1991-92.
The club has had the No. 2 pick six times, has picked third four times and fourth in nine different drafts. They have never picked fifth.
Here are the 25 best players in the history of the Detroit Pistons. Players had to have appeared in 150 games and averaged a minimum of 20 minutes per game for the team to qualify for this list.
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