AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Jack McCloskey, General Manager for the Detroit Pistons from 1979 to 1992 and architect of the Bad Boys’ two NBA Championship teams, passed away this afternoon in Savannah, Georgia at the age of 91. The Detroit Pistons organization sends its thoughts and prayers to Jack’s wife, Leslie, and the entire McCloskey family.
McCloskey, nicknamed “Trader Jack” for his many astute trades during his tenure as the clubs’ GM, assembled the Pistons’ teams which brought two NBA Championships to Detroit in 1989 and 1990. His teams made nine straight playoff appearances (1984-92), five straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, three NBA Finals appearances and those two championships. He was honored by the club on March 29, 2008 with a retirement ceremony where his name was lifted to the rafters among the franchise’s greats.
In the draft, McCloskey would select a pair of future Hall of Famers in the first round with Isiah Thomas (1981) and Joe Dumars (1985). In 1986, he selected Georgia Tech’s John Salley with the 11th overall pick for his athleticism and then selected Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman from little known Southeast Oklahoma State with the 27th pick in the second round.
But his nickname “Trader Jack” became famous because of the shrewd trades he pulled off with other NBA teams. Most notably, McCloskey traded for Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson. Later he acquired Rick Mahorn, James Edwards and Mark Aguirre, all key additions that would become mainstays on those great Bad Boys teams.
McCloskey hired another future Hall of Famer – Chuck Daly in 1983. As head coach of the Pistons, Daly holds the franchise records for regular season victories (467) and playoff victories (71).