ESPN 30 for 30 on the Bad Boys

Submitted by Gulogulo37 on May 20th, 2013 at 5:46 AM

Title speaks for itself. There will be an ESPN 30 for 30 piece on the Bad Boys. Only thing is we have to wait a year to see it. I'm really looking forward to it since I don't actually know that much about them, on account of me being a toddler at the time.

If I were to watch one playoff series from the Bad Boys, which should I watch?


The Barwis Effect

May 20th, 2013 at 6:22 AM ^

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.

Mr. Yost

May 20th, 2013 at 8:42 AM ^

...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 can certainly see why that would be funny for a current Bulls fan to diss the Bad Boys.


May 20th, 2013 at 9:29 AM ^

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.


May 20th, 2013 at 7:54 AM ^

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.

Blue in Denver

May 20th, 2013 at 2:41 PM ^

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.

CRISPed in the DIAG

May 20th, 2013 at 3:17 PM ^

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.

Unfiltered Manball

May 20th, 2013 at 9:33 PM ^

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! 


May 20th, 2013 at 3:44 PM ^

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. 


May 20th, 2013 at 9:12 AM ^

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. 


May 20th, 2013 at 2:54 PM ^

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!)


May 20th, 2013 at 3:56 PM ^

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.


May 20th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

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. 

snarling wolverine

May 20th, 2013 at 5:03 PM ^

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.




May 20th, 2013 at 7:16 AM ^

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.

snarling wolverine

May 20th, 2013 at 4:48 PM ^

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.



May 20th, 2013 at 4:55 PM ^

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).


May 20th, 2013 at 5:55 PM ^

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. 



May 20th, 2013 at 7:17 AM ^

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.


May 20th, 2013 at 7:22 AM ^

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.

marco dane

May 20th, 2013 at 12:58 PM ^

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.


May 20th, 2013 at 7:49 AM ^

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.


May 20th, 2013 at 8:25 AM ^

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. 


May 20th, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

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. 


May 20th, 2013 at 9:04 AM ^

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.)




May 20th, 2013 at 9:46 AM ^

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"