Detroit Pistons Information

The franchise was founded in 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana by Fred Zollner, owner of a General Motors subsidiary that manufactured piston parts. Lead by star forward George Yardley, the Fort Wayne Pistons were a popular franchise and appeared in the NBA Finals in 1954 and 1955, losing both times. In 1957, Zollner moved the team to Detroit, a much larger city that did not have an NBA franchise; the Detroit Gems had folded after one season of existence. The new Detroit Pistons played in Olympia Stadium for their first four seasons, then moved to Cobo Arena. The franchise was a consistent disapointment, struggling on both the court and the box office. In 1974, Zollner sold the team to Bill Davidson, who remains the team's principal owner. Displeased with the team's location in downtown Detroit, Davidson moved it to the suburb of Pontiac in 1978, where it played in the mammoth Silverdome, a structure built for professional football (the Silverdome was the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions at the time).

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The franchise's fortunes finally began to turn in 1981, when it drafted point guard Isiah Thomas out of Indiana University. In early 1982, it acquired center Bill Laimbeer and guard Vinnie Johnson. The three, along with later aquisitions Joe Dumars, Rick Mahorn, and Dennis Rodman, formed the core of a team that would rise to the top of the league. With their physical, intense style of play, the Pistons gained the nickname "Bad Boys." Coach Chuck Daly took the team to the NBA Finals three consecutive years (1988-90) and won NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. The team moved into the lavish Palace of Auburn Hills in 1988 and remains there today.

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The franchise went through a lengthy transitional period as its key players either retired or left. Though Grant Hill emerged as a gifted player, the team was unable to win a playoff series, losing to the Orlando Magic in 1996, the Atlanta Hawks in 1997 and 1999, and the Miami Heat in 2000. In the summer of 2000, Hill indicated his intentions to leave for Orlando, and Dumars (who was appointed the franchise's president of basketball operations that year) dealt Hill to the Magic in return for a pair of largely unheralded players. One of them, Ben Wallace, would prove to be a cornerstone for the franchise's revamped roster.

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Under Dumars' leadership, the Pistons have since surrounded Wallace with rising stars Chauncey Billups, Richard "Rip" Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince. Coached by Hall of Fame inductee Larry Brown, the Pistons returned to prominence, winning the 2004 NBA championship in dominating fashion over the heavily-favored Los Angeles Lakers.

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As the franchise returned to the league's élite level, the tepid local support of the 1990s correspondingly increased, and despite playing in the league's largest arena, Pistons home games at the Palace now routinely sell out, thus regularly making the Pistons the league leaders in fan attendance, and the raucous Palace crowd one of the most formidable for opposing teams to play before in the NBA.

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On November 19, 2004, the Detroit Pistons were involved in a massive brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills during a losing home game against the Indiana Pacers. After fouling Pistons' Ben Wallace, Pacer Ron Artest was hit by a cup while lying down on the scorer's table. This caused Artest to rush into the stands and attack some fans. Other Pacers such as Jermaine O'Neal fought with fans who had walked onto the court. A month later, five Pacers and seven fans were charged after being involved in the "basketbrawl."

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The Pistons were considered a strong contender to win a second consecutive title in 2005. Seeded second in the Eastern Conference in the playoffs, they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 and then rallied from a 2-1 deficit to finish off the Indiana Pacers 4-2. In the conference finals, the Pistons again fell behind, three games to two, but then won the final two games to defeat the Miami Heat and become Eastern Conference Champions. In the process, the Pistons became the first team to win a game 7 on the road since the L.A. Lakers did so against the Sacramento Kings in 2002.
The Pistons played in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. After splitting the first six games, the first NBA Finals Game 7 since 1994 was played. There, however, the Pistons lost a hard-fought game to the Spurs, who clinched their third championship. The Pistons franchise heads into the offseason with all five starters plus key reserve Antonio McDyess under contract for 2005-06. On July 18, the Pistons decided to buy out the remaining 3 years left on Larry Brown's contract, officially ending his coaching days in Detroit. He was replaced by Flip Saunders who previously coached the Minnesota Timberwolves. Brown subsequently signed a deal to coach the New York Knicks.

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