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Greatest Detroit Pistons Of All Time

Updated on December 11, 2014

Greatest Detroit Pistons Ever

I started following the NBA in the mid 80s, which was right about the time the Detroit Pistons started becoming a championship level team. Growing up in Michigan, it was easy to become a big fan of theirs. The Pistons of the late 80s and early 90s became known as the "Bad Boys" and won back to back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. They had another great stretch through the 2000s, going to six straight Eastern Conference Finals and winning the NBA title in 2004. It's certainly enjoyable when your team has such a recent history of success, and I hope they build another championship caliber team soon.

This hub is dedicated to the greatest Detroit Pistons of all time. Most of these players, along with late, great head coach Chuck Daly, were part of the Pistons championship teams. A few played before my time, but belong on this list because of their great careers. Whatever the case, here's my list of the best Pistons ever.

Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas, nicknamed "Zeke", wasn't the most popular player of his day for fans of opposing teams, but for Pistons fans he was certainly a big favorite. He's without a doubt one of the Greatest Detroit Pistons of all time and played point guard his entire NBA career (1981-1994) with them.

Thomas was a 12-time All-Star selection (twice named MVP of the game) as well as a three time All-NBA First Team selection during his career. He was the best player on the "Bad Boy" Pistons championship teams in 1989 and 1990 and was the Finals MVP in '90. He finished his career with 19.2 points per game, 9,061 assists, and 1,861 steals.

Thomas was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 and had his #11 retired by the Pistons. He was also named one of the Top 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Since his playing career ended, Thomas has had limited success as a head coach and working in the front office for various NBA teams. He continues to work in the game.

Joe Dumars
Joe Dumars

Joe Dumars

Another one of the Greatest Detroit Pistons of all time is Joe Dumars. He played his whole career from 1985 to 1999 with the Pistons, most of those years playing shooting guard in the backcourt with Thomas.

"Joe D" was a six-time NBA All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times. He was also part of the Bad Boy teams that won it all in '89 and '90, winning the Finals MVP in '89. Dumars averaged 16.1 points per game for his career and had totals of 2,203 rebounds, 4,612 assists, and 902 steals.

Dumars #4 was retired by the Pistons in 2000 and he was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He is a former President of Basketball Operations for the Pistons and is credited with building the team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals 6 years in a row and won the NBA championship in 2004.

Dave Bing

Dave Bing was one of the greatest Detroit Pistons ever who played in the 60s and 70s. He played for Detroit from 1966 to 1975 before finishing his career with the Washington Bullets (1975-1977) and the Boston Celtics (1977-1978).

Bing won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 1967 with the Pistons and was an All-Star seven times, winning the All-Star MVP award in 1976. He also was an All-NBA First Teamer twice. Bing Led the NBA in scoring in 1968 by averaging 27.1 points per game and averaged 20.3 for his career.

Bing was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, had his #21 retired by the Pistons, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990. He is a former mayor of Detroit.

Chauncey Billups
Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups

As the go to guy on the Pistons recent stretch of deep playoff runs, along with their NBA championship victory in 2004, Chauncey Billups has to be counted among the greatest Pistons of all time. After being a part of 5 different teams from 1997 to 2002 he played for the Pistons from 2002 to 2008 and again in 2013-'14.

Known as "Mr. Big Shot", Billups career took off when he joined the Pistons. He is a five-time All-Star and has been named to the All-NBA Second Team once and the All-NBA Third Team twice. He was also MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals and led the Pistons to six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances.

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace

For his defensive prowess, Ben Wallace has to rank among the greatest Detroit Pistons of all time. "Big Ben" played for Washington and Orlando before joining the Pistons in 2000. He stayed with the Pistons through 2006 before playing for Chicago and Cleveland (along with a short off season stint with Phoenix). He rejoined the Pistons in 2009 and remains with the team.

Like Billups, Wallace's career took off once he went to Detroit. With the Pistons, he won 4 Defensive Player of the Year awards and made 4 All-Star teams. He's a five-time All-Defensive First Team selection, three-time All-NBA Second Team selection, and two-time All-NBA Third Team selection. Wallace was also part of the Pistons 2004 championship team.

George Yardley

George Yardley was one of the best Pistons of all time who played with the franchise in its final years in Fort Wayne and first years in Detroit. He played for the Fort Wayne/Detroit Pistons from 1953 to 1958 and the Syracuse Nationals from 1958 to 1960.

Yardley was a six-time All-Star game selection and made the All-NBA First Team in 1958. He also won the scoring title in '58 by averaging 27.8 points per game, becoming the first player to score over 2000 points in a season. He averaged 19.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for his career.

Yardley was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996. He passed away in 2004.

Bob Lanier

For his great numbers through the 1970s, Bob Lanier would have to be considered one of the greatest Detroit Pistons of all time. He played centerĀ for the Pistons from 1970 to 1980 and the Milwaukee from 1980 to 1984.

Lanier was the first overall draft pick by the Pistons in 1970. He was an eight-time NBA All-Star, winning the MVP in the 1974 game. For his career, he averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.

The Pistons and the Bucks both retired Lanier's #16. 1992, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Lanier had a brief stint as the Golden State Warriors interim head coach during the 1994-95 season.

Rip Hamilton
Rip Hamilton

Richard Hamilton

Richard "Rip" Hamilton certainly deserves a place on the list of the greatest Detroit Pistons of all time. He started his NBA career by playing for the Washington Wizards from 1999-2002. He was traded to the Pistons in '02 and played with them until 2011.

Rip was another integral piece of the Pistons teams that went to six straight Eastern Conference Finals and won the NBA title in '04. His career highs include 20.1 points per game in '05-'06, 4.9 assists per game in '04-'05, and 1.3 steals per game in '03-'04. He is also a three-time All-Star.

Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer

Bill Laimbeer

Yet another member of the "Bad Boys" who should be considered among the best Detroit Pistons of all time is Bill Laimbeer. He began his NBA career by playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1980-82, then joined the Pistons and played the rest of his career for them (1982-94).

Known for his hard fouls and flopping to get calls, Laimbeer was a big part of the Pistons 1989 and 1990 championship teams. He was a four-time All-Star selection and led the NBA in total rebounds twice. He was also the 19th player in NBA history to score 10,000 points and get 10,000 rebounds.

Laimbeer's #40 was retired by the Pistons. He coached the Detroit Shock from 2003-2009, winning the WNBA title 3 times. He is a possible future NBA head coach.

Chuck Daly

As the head coach of the "Bad Boys" championship teams, Chuck Daly has to be included among the greatest Detroit Pistons of all time. After a short stint coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was the head coach of the Pistons from 1983 to 1992. Daly also coached the New Jersey Nets and Orlando Magic after his Pistons days were over.

Daly coached the Pistons to back to back titles in 1989 and 1990. He also coached the "Dream Team" to the Olympic gold medal in 1992. He finished his coaching career with a 638-437 regular season record and a 75-51 playoff record.

Daly was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994. He unfortunately passed away in 2009.

Honorable Mentions

There are some other Detroit Pistons from the championship years who deserve mention. The most obvious would be Dennis Rodman. The only thing with him is that he had a lot of his best seasons with other teams - the Bulls in particular. Guys like John Salley and Vinnie Johnson with the Bad Boy teams, and Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince in the 2000s invoke many great memories. Among current Pistons, the players who have the best shot to be among the best on the team all-time would have to be Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

Who's The Best?

Who do you think is the greatest Detroit Piston of all-time?

See results


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    • EJ Lambert profile image

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      People never understood how brilliant Daly was as head coach for Detroit. His creation of the Jordan Rule probably kept Michael from winning eight championships instead of six while his handling of the egos on that 1992 Dream Team was a masterpiece. He gets cast in a bad light because of how his team played, but he was a terrific coach who knew what it took to win.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Can't believe you didn't put the "Worm" and Grant Hill on this list.Rodman spent best 7 seasons of his career as a Piston So did Grant in his 6 amazing years as a Piston.


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