They lost in 7, but the series was awesome. The two title runs were dominant. No real standout series,,,a lot of butt kicking
ESPN 30 for 30 on the Bad Boys
All-time great series that should have been won by the Pistons if not for two crucial plays: 1) Bird's famous last second steal in Game Five; and 2) a head-on collision between Adrian Dantley and Vinnie Johnson in Game 7.
and then walked off the court vs. the Bulls and seems like whiny little bitches. And yes Isiah, that's why no '92 Olympics for you.
I feel like you might have an opinion of the Bad Boys, but I can't quite put on finger on what that opinion is.
Over 20 years later the haters are still alive and well. It speaks for how competitive the game was and how good the Bad Boys were. The greatest team defense I've ever seen.
Only Bulls fans feel this way, in my experience.
...considering how the Bulls play now.
It doesn't compare side to side, but when you compare the Bulls now vs. the rest of the league and the Pistons then vs. the rest of the league...you can certainly see why that would be funny for a current Bulls fan to diss the Bad Boys.
of the Bulls, I would recommend the 89-90 Eastern Conference Finals. Pistons in 7. Huge momentum shifts throughout the series. The Palace and the Madhouse on Madison both rockin. Michael Jordon and 100% pure awesomeness. Scottie Pippen and the migrane. Isiah hitting threes from everywhere. Good watching.
That's exactly what the Celtics did to the Pistons when the Pistons finally got past Boston the first time, but nobody in the media ever called the Celtics or Larry Bird for their "bad sportsmanship." Instead, when the Pistons walked off on the Bulls, the media acted like they were the first team to ever do so.
What game was that? I tried looking it up and saw a few people mention it on forums but that's it.
Although in fairness, there are plenty of highlights from the end of that game clearly showing McHale shaking Isiah's hand and wishing him good luck against the Lakers in the next series.
McHale put his arm around VJ after game 6 and told him to "Beat LA. Beat them." Man, I miss those teams and what an all-out war it was.
Because everyone else was walking off the floor.
But likewise Dumars shaking hands doesn't get remembered. It's all PR.
I was in high school back then I bled Pistons red, white, and blue. Predictably, I hated the Celtics with the fire of a thousand suns. But the '87 and '88 series' made me a fan of Kevin McHale.
The entire '88 series (less so in '87) the pistons tough interior defense was taking Bird and Parrish out of their games and they bitched and whined about it incessently. They still had their moments but nothing like what they did to other teams.
McHale, on the other hand, was carrying them. As the player doing the most damage he got the most hard fouls from Laimbeer and Mahorn (hard fouls then being what gets you suspended for 5 games today) and he never said a word. Never complained. Just kept picking himself up off the floow and putting up what seemed like 30pts and 15 boards every damned game.
I've respected him in a way I've respected very few NBA players ever since.
Good point re McHale. He went through a period from '87-'90 where he was damn near unstoppable when he had the ball within 10' of the rim. The Pistons made it hard for Bird to set up in the post or step outside b/o Rodman and the years of playoff battles were taking a toll on his back. Parish was always a weak link against stronger line-ups. It makes me shudder to think what an optimized Len Bias could have done for that team.
Should watch film of McHale and his post moves. He had a million of them, and any player would be better by adopting some of them.
Plus how you could you ever hate this guy....?
Now Ainge, on the other hand...
Pistons-Celtics was amazing in the late 80's. Some real hate in that rivalry. As much as I lived and died with the Pistons fortunes and loathed the Celtics, I always admired McHale. A complete player. Great defense, great rebounding, and as you stated, had about a million moves with his back to the basket. His jump hook was absolutely leathal.
Along with Ainge, Brad Lohaus was always a great choice to have his face caved in. Damn that was some great basketball!
Remember the "We Hate Ainge" t-shirts? (And then "We STILL Hate Ainge" when he was traded to Sacramento?) Classic.
And don't forget, it was either in 87 or 88 that he played against the Pistons with a bum foot. I don't remember the exact injury, but I thought he had some kind of broken bone in his foot if memory serves, yet he still played like a BOSS. Witness the controversial ending of regulation in Game 2 of the 88 Conference Finals, where McHale hit a disputed 3 (Pistons fans claim his toe was on the line) to send the game into OT, ultimately leading to a Celtics win.
The poster who made the comment about Len Bias is correct - had the 87 Celtics team been able to play Bias from the get-go, they would have probably won at least one more championship before the bodies of McHale and Bird completely wore out.
that the 1991 Bulls were among the biggest "Sore Winners" in the history of basketball. They spent a good 2 years complaining in the media about the Pistons leading up to that series because they kept getting their asses handed to them in the Eastern Conference Finals. And even in 1991, when it was clear that the Bulls had the better team, Jordan, Pippen and Jackson kept bitching about the Pistons to the press, during the series. They refused to acknowledge them as a great team or worthy champions.
Basically, they kept trashing them in the press even as they were building up a 3-0 series lead, showing ZERO class whatsoever. The Pistons should have been the bigger team and stayed on the court at the end of Game 4, but make no mistake - the Bulls deserved the snub because they spent the entire series acting like spoiled little children. I was personally glad to see the Pistons give the Bulls one final FU on the way out. Had the Bulls been the least bit gracious prior to Game 4, there's no way that walk-off takes place.
As a Bulls fan, I'm laughing at the ridicluousness of every aspect of this comment. The BULLS were classless in that series? This is the same series in which Rodman shoved Pippen under the basket, correct? I'm sure the Bulls were devastated by the Pistons' "one final FU" on the way out. It clearly made a huge impact when they won the first of their six titles that year.
The fact of the matter is that in 1989 and 1990, the Bulls were far more talented team than the Pistons. They were just incredibly young (Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant were both drafted in 1987). Once they figured out how to play together and to overcome the Pistons' supremely ugly brand of basketball, the Pistons had no chance. Which is why even though 1990 was a 7-game slugfest, 1991 was a 4-game shellacking. And after that, the Bulls never looked back.
(Since this post seems almost certain to incite further angry responses, Go Blue!)
By 1991 the Pistons were old and breaking down. You also forgot the 1988 "shellacking." Those teams head to head it was 3-1 in the Pistons favor. That team wasn't more talented. They were Jordan and head case Pippen and a bunch of interchangable guys....until they added Rodman (who along with Salley was drafted in 1986). The Bulls were just mad because the only team that ever owned them was the Pistons. They won 6 titles, but when the League wasn't as good as the Big East. They just lucked out by being the youngest of those teams. If the Pistons, Celtics, Lakers, or even the Sixers (if they had been a LOT younger) was the youngest team coming out of the 80's they would have all won a lot more championships too. But they all had to play each other. The Bulls didn't have to play anybody.
But it was still an FU nonetheless. And I would dispute whether the 89 and 90 Bulls were more talented than the Pistons of those years. When you look at the careers of the players on each of those teams, who really stands out from the Bulls besides Jordan and Pippen?
Jordan - greatest player of all time
Pippen - Top 50 player of all time (and one of the 10 biggest man-ginas in NBA history but I digress)
After that though, who was so staunch on that Bulls team from a talent perspective? Horace Grant was pretty solid, and they had some good bench support that evolved in 1991-92 (Livingston, Armstrong) to sub in for guys like Cartwright and Paxon. But they didn't yet have the likes of Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Rodman or Brian Williams - those guys all came later on in the 90s.
The Pistons of 89-90, by contrast, had 3 Hall of Famers (Isiah, Joe D, Rodman) and a much stronger supporting cast at the time (multiple All Star appearances for Laimbeer and Aguire plus a solid bench of Edwards, Salley and Vinnie Johnson).
I'd say Chicago had the best player on either team (Jordan) and the third best (Pippen). Isiah was the 2nd best player on either team, but after Pippen the next 4 guys in terms of talent and performance were probably all Detroit (I'd take Joe D, Rodman and Laimbeer for sure over Grant, and probably Vinnie as well).
The Bulls absolutely shellacked the Pistons in 1991, but if it was just a matter of them figuring the Pistons out, then why did the Pistons never again get out of the first round of the playoffs with that core? The truth is that the Pistons aged and began to regress just as the Bulls hit their apex. We'll never know which team was truly "better" at its peak because they missed each other by at least one year.
The best Pistons team was the 1988-89 outfit and the best Bulls team prior to Jordan's first retirement was the 1991-92 team. The closest we saw to both teams meeting at the peak of their respective powers was the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals - the last strong Pistons team of that era and Phil Jackson's first year coaching the Bulls. And in that series, the Pistons won in 7. The Bulls "never looked back" after 1991 because the Pistons got old and no other super team rose up to replace them.
The league the Bulls came to dominate was severely diluted compared to the prior decade. Unlike the great teams they followed (Lakers, Celtics, 76ers and Pistons of the 80's), the Bulls had no equal rival to keep them in line (the closest was probably the Knicks). If the Showtime Lakers or Bad Boy Pistons had existed in the early-mid 90's at their peak, Chicago would have won their fair share but they certainly wouldn't have won 6 NBA titles. Probably would have been more like 3.
One more comment about "ugly" basketball - that was the knock on the Pistons at the time, but go back and watch their old games sometime. Sure, they were tough and physical defensively, but they were beautiful to watch offensively. They had multiple guys who could shoot from anywhere on the floor, their passing was crisp and they didn't run their entire offense predicated on the boring One on One Isolation bullshit that has come to dominate basketball over the last 20 years.
A lot of that crap started as Jordan became the best player in the NBA. Other players began to emulate doing what Jordan did - hold on to the ball until late in the shot clock, ignore the other 4 guys and then jack a late shot or try to draw a bogus foul. Jordan could get away with this because he was the best player ever. This was merely one component to his game, but he would also go 2-3 quarters at a time acting as a facilitator and letting the offense flow through others. The guys who tried to mimic Jordan didn't have that kind of complete game, but unfortunately they took after the worst parts of his game and brought down the NBA for several years as a result.
The entire concept of not letting guys play "D" and having the refs bail out complete bullshit drives to the basket by superstars started with the Jordan Bulls. It built to a crescendo of Complete Suck in the 2006 NBA playoffs courtesy of Dwayne Wade. So if you hate the ugliness of what NBA offenses have turned into over the last 2 decades, that's ironically more due to the influence of the 90's Bulls than anything the Bad Boy Pistons ever did.
What goes around comes around though. You now root for a team (the Bulls) who needed to play Bad Boys-style basketball in order to have a chance to take down the Heat (who of course, have assumed the mantle as the modern day Jordan-era Bulls). Ironically, if the game was still played and officiated the way it was in the late 80's, the Bulls with a healthy Derrick Rose would have a decent shot at beating the Heat in a 7-game playoff series.
So, we are penalizing opinions these days?
also count as an opinion? And am I "penalizing" you by disagreeing with you?
Pistons taught Jordan what it would actually take to win championships. Bad Boys are my all time favorites. Bulls were a bunch of cry babies and deserved the whooping they got.
If any team "ruined basketball," it had to be the Pat Riley Knicks, not the Bad Boys. The Bad Boys were actually really talented at both ends. They played at a slower pace than say, the Showtime Lakers, but most of their games were still in the 100s.
The Riley Knicks were basically Patrick Ewing and a bunch of goons, and played a lot of games with scores of like 90-82.
no seriously, they kicked peoples' asses on the court
I always felt bad that he was right there from the beginning of the Bad Boys, and got dealt right when they their time came. Dude had a wicked post, and turnaround J.
But then again -- F him.
AD was actually only there for 2.5 years. It felt longer, though, because all the young guys - Dumars, Salley, Rodman - looked up to him and called him "the Teacher."
He probably had to go, though, because he couldn't get along with Isiah and Laimbeer, and those two ran the show.
And part of it was he bogged down the offense. He was their low post threat, but he was also a black hole. And at the time guys like Dumars were improving and getting better, and Rodman was demanding more minutes (not for offense). Mark came in and because he was Isiah's buddy even though he was a big time scorer in Dallas he didn't want to screw things up. So he gave them the scoring, but didn't demand the touches, and passed better than Dantley (and more frequently).
No offense to Dantley, but a telephone pole could pass the ball better and more frequently than Adrian Dantley.
Dantley was unbelievable in his ability to either score or draw a foul on almost ever post possession. He was a machine. He also completely killed all offensive flow the Pistons had, because once he had the ball, everyone else might as well just fall back on defense.
The late 80's, early 90's Pistons were really good. It's interesting to imagine how many NBA titles they would have won had they not played in the same era as three of the greatest NBA teams ever assembled.
I'm trying to remember which series it was when Rodman helped Pippen into the 3rd row. Or when Barkley got into it with Laimbeer/Mahorn.
None are probably as classic as the Heat Knicks series a few years later when Jeff Van Gundy was a rag doll on Alonzo Mourning's leg, but still good stuff.
I think it was actually Barkley and Mahorn vs. Laimbeer and Edwards. It was after the first title when Mahorn when in the expansion draft and ended up on the Sixers.
Edit: it was-
And for the full https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150257156079140
Wonder how he lasted as long as he did...with that old man body. He didn't pass the eye test when standing next to Rolando Blackmon,Micheal Cooper or Adrian Dantley
Sorta reminds me of former Atl Brave great Greg Maddux...didn't look like he could bust a pushup to save his life. But,boy could that guy pitch,along with the fact,he was durable,too.
Barkley was a really good athlete. He had fantastic leaping ability. He couldn't play PF at 6'5" or whatever otherwise.
The Final Countdown!
Shit got real when that song came on. Then the camera would zoom in on each players face before the ball would get inbounded. And who could forget the Bulls' home court intro? Chills man, chills.
Possibly wasn't even the two championships. Perhaps the '89 series with the Bulls. Very scrappy and some amazing plays. The '88 loss to the Lakers was an unbelievable great and frustrating series. Injuries got us in '88 and got the Lakers in '89.
I still remember watching on TV when Thomas stepped on Cooper's foot and sprained his ankle, thinking in my 10-year old mind that this might be it for the Pistons. It was great to watch him come right back in the game (a minute later, maybe even less) and score 43 points in the game - including 25 in the 3rd quarter alone - despite being in visible pain. That was a very dramatic game in a very dramatic series.
NBA from 1984-1994 >>> anything else
The NBA hasn't been the same since. The last time I loved the NBA was 2004. Slowly got worse from there.
No surprise the decline of Detroit Basketball also coincided with my decreased interest in the league. Everything's a foul now. You can't play Bad Boy defense anymore. Stern changed the rules a few years back.
Did anyone notice they had a bunch of "Bad Boys" on their roster during their 90's run?
Which is saying something because 30 for 30 is generally an outstanding series. The key will be who they are able to line up interviews with. I'm not sure all of these guys will be willing to talk, but to get a true look at the good AND the bad, it would be best if they could interview the following folks:
Dantley, Vinnie, Rodman, Salley, Mahorn, Laimbeer, Isiah, Joe D, Jordan, Pippen, Horace Grant, Phil Jackson, Magic, Worthy, Kareem, Pat Riley, Bird, McHale, Parish, Ainge, Barkley, Dominique Wilkins, Doug Collins, Kevin Duckworth, Rick Adelman, Cliff Robinson, Clyde Drexler, AC Green and AC Green's jehri curls from 1988
It's too bad Chuck Daly passed away, because his insight would have been fantastic. So many characters on that team, so much talent. Hopefully the episode will be a good two hours because they'll have so much potential content to choose from.
In terms of classic Bad Boys series, one of the things that made that team so endearing weren't just the wins, but the losses against some of the finest teams in NBA history. You knew the Bad Boys were legit because they climbed the ladder during the Golden Age of the NBA and then managed to stay on top for awhile. Their losses were usually more classic than their wins, mainly because once they got to the top they dominated most of their series. But if you had to go back and watch 5 series from that era, here are the 5 I'd recommend:
- 87 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Boston (this should be mandatory viewing for any basketball fan, regardless of team)
- 88 NBA Finals vs. LA (Game 6 is every bit of classic a game as Game 5 of the 87 Celtics series)
- 90 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Chicago (A 7 game war and the extra joy of seeing Pippen sitting miserably on the bench with a migraine in Game 7)
- 88 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Boston (FINALLY beating Boston in the Garden not once, but twice)
- 90 NBA Finals vs. Portland (Pistons won in 5, but aside from Game 3 every game was right down to the wire, including the Microwave's series clinching jumper in Game 5. Plus you get to see Laimbeer getting into Duckworth's head and pissing him off all series.)
would be another name I'd like to have added to the list of players too. His elbow to Zeke head wasn't by accident and something I've always wondered about. But, what was more stranger was the response from Zeke's teammates...interesting,to say the least...non Bad Boy.
and now that you mention it, I forgot to add Mark Aguire as well. Considering his role in a couple of Zeke's weird triangles (the Dantley-Aguire trade allegedly orchestrated by Zeke and the long-time friendship of Magic-Isiah-Aguire) it would be interesting to get his take. Plus, we could get to hear Salley bust out his old nickname for Aguire - "Pumpkin Head"
After Stockton got picked over Isiah for the Dream Team, Zeke lit him up. Then because of it Malone cheap shotted him. It was typical Malone, because even though he had a body like a brick wall, he never picked a fight with anyone taller than 6'2".
After reading that post, I had actually forgotten how close that team was to three peating. Multiple back to back finals appearances... this team has got to get back to elite status, but with the way the league is now, it may be hard to do that.
Up 3 in Game 6 with less than a minute to play......phantom foul called on Laimbeer against Kareem with 14 seconds left.....Joe D rushes a shot when he had a pretty good look right before the final buzzer.....Isiah's 43 point game on a bum ankle ruined......AAAARRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!
One of the best.
Chuck was the man. He was not only a great coach, but he knew how to manage all of the different personalities and egos on the team. R.I.P. Coach Daly.
He was also a very well-rounded person, with a lot of intellectual interests. Not like a typical NBA coach at all.
Home court was supreme back then. When we lost Game 2 in Detroit, Portland thought they had it sewn up. The papers were complaining about our arrogance.
Joe D.'s played off his skull in Game 3 only to find out at the end of the game his dad passed away.
Detroit goes on to win the last three games. . .All in Portland!
Portland had a good team too. Drexler, Porter, Williams, that fat ass Duckworth.
But after Game 2 one of the Trailblazers said "we're not coming back to Detroit"....and they were right.
The thing is, Detroit hadn't won in Portland in like a decade, even with their great teams (because they played there only once a year).
The tone of the 30 for 30 films are often a product of the opinion of their creator towards the subject matter. For example, the one about Miami was very Pro-Hurricanes even though many would argue that those teams should not have been held in such high regard. Given the love them or hate them relationship people have with the Bad Boys I'm thinking this could end up being either a very critical or very complementary doc
Hopefully it's badass. Have every single 1989 ECF and NBA Finals game on DVD in a box set. Watch them every once in a while. Born in 89, so my first Pistons memories are Grant Hill and Allan Houston. But I love watching the Bad Boys.
I was very happy to hear this when I read the column on SI. Bad Boys were great and did Detroit proud. Deeeeeeeetroit Basketball™
They played a brand of defense that has rarely been seen since. Today's NBA is too ticky-tack. Anything's a foul. Back then you played and played hard. And those Bad Boys didn't let nothing go. Elbows, physical, that was good basketball, I don't care what those outside Detroit say.
They were hated outside Detroit, but loved in the city. They were great and I look forward to watching
Loved that tough D. No easy baskets.
Or if you just want to watch the fights
Thanks! Great post!
I love how Johnny Most's whining is spliced into the first video - well done.
In the second video, John Salley's block on Jordan at 1:40 is an amazing athletic play - one of the best blocks I've ever seen. It looks like MJ has cleared room for himself, and then Salley comes out of nowhere - and he keeps the ball alive and triggers a fastbreak, too.
Can't forget Rodman after '87 ECF saying that if Bird was black, he'd be "just another player." Zeke was asked to comment and he agreed with Rodman. I think Isaiah later apologized, but it took a while.
In fact, reporters asked Isaiah if he thought the Celtics had a chance to beat the Lakers and repeat as champions and he said "No way, not a chance". Bird, upon learning of Zeke's prognosis: "Well, at least we have a chance, and [the Pistons] don't."
Because a lot of players believed what Rodman said, just not to the extent he said it, because frankly, Rodman isn't exactly that bright (I know, nothing that's happened since has given anyone that impression...). The problem is no matter his color Bird is one of the greatest players of all time. But the HYPE he was getting at the time was so much more than Wilkins and so forth, it exceeded the difference in their talent. Because back then there was still an undercurrent of wanting a "great white hope" in the League, and the Celtics were that.
And technically, in '87 Isiah's prediction was right. Realistically but for one boneheaded play and one play of heads boning together, the Celtics probably shouldn't have even been in that NBA Finals.
There's much we can debate, but Bird was correct - the Celtics had a chance to repeat and the Piston's didn't. Whether or not Bird was deserved of the "hype" was irrelevant. His teams won three (3) NBA titles and we can only find a handful of players in the 80's that can claim more success. Moreover, I have trouble believing that Bird won three (3) MVP's (not to mention a shitload of other honorariums) based on "hype."
Listen, I'm a rare fan of both franchises for a variety of uninteresting reasons. IMHO, it was the greatest period of pitched battle in NBA history (Celtics/Sixers, Celtics/Lakers, Celtics/Pistons, Pistons/Bulls). For whatever reason David Stern wasn't enamoured with any of it. Hopefully we get a flavor of it with the upcoming Pacers/Heat series.
Doesn't mean Isiah was wrong.
So glad they're doing a 30 for 30 on the Bad Boys! Brings me back to some of the best days of my childhood.
I wish Laimbeer was coaching the Pistons now.
What I'd really like to hear is the rationale for leaving Mahorn unprotected in the expansion draft in 1989. Mahorn was 31 and while he had some health issues (back), he still pretty much seemed in his prime. James Edwards had an awesome turnaround J, but he was 34 and in decline. If they'd left him unprotected instead of Mahorn, he probably would have been passed over.
They were working on a trade with the T-Wolves but it fell through. They thought that with Dantley gone Edwards was their only real low post threat. (Plus losing one of the Bad Boys certainly made them think they'd get a more favorable whistle). It ended up being a mistake because Mahorn ending up playing longer than just about any of them. They were really penalized for winning with depth, something no other champion has had to face. Next time they did expansion Mhorn would have been protected.
Watch the 88 finals against la. Then watch the 89 championship video or if u can find it, just the cbs post-game mashup of the pistons winning their first title. Highlight clips set to the music of "the way you do the things you do". Last time network tv did a goood post title mashup with appropriate music that isn't. Pop song of the day.
Underrated player on those teams- budda edwards. His fade away turn around jumper was as unstoppable as kareem's skyhook. Shame no post up players in the nba have signature post moves anymore....