By Will Burchfield
Twitter:Burchie_kid

Twenty-six years ago yesterday, the Detroit Pistons beat the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to claim their second consecutive championship. It was the exclamation point on a two-year run of dominance for the Pistons, who are remembered as perhaps the meanest, hardest-working team in NBA history.

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And they were a team in every sense of the word, relying on a deep bench and a we-over-me attitude to stand out in a league loaded with juggernauts.

The “Bad Boys,” as they became known, were led by point guard Isiah Thomas and center Bill Laimbeer, the former providing the flash and the flair, the latter providing the toughness and tenacity. But the Pistons were hardly a two-man show. The team’s supporting cast featured the likes of Joe Dumars, Vinnie Johnson, Dennis Rodman, James Edwards, Rick Mahorn and John Salley. This cadre of talent came together under the leadership of the late Chuck Daly, who is remembered as one of the greatest NBA coaches ever.

The Pistons entered the 1988-89 season poised to take the next step in their quest for greatness. They were hardened from numerous playoff battles with the Celtics and Bulls in the preceding years, and motivated by a seven-game loss to the Lakers in the NBA finals just a few months prior. Having come within one win – and, as some fans will recall, one phantom foul – from hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, the Pistons were determined, this time around, to finish the job.

Below are thoughts and memories from players, personnel and media members alike, all of whom had a front-row seat to one of the most exhilarating shows in NBA history.

What stands out to you most about those championship teams?

Terry Foster, Detroit News Pistons beat writer, 1988-1994:

Well I guess two things: being tough, and being mentally tough. Everyone talks about Laimbeer and Mahorn and the interior toughness, which they definitely had, but there was always a game plan. Sometimes they might not have been as athletic as other teams but they always preached mental toughness, which means you can’t break down at the end of games. I think one of the prime examples of that was in 1990, they were playing Seattle, down 22 points at the half and it just so happens that the locker Pistons’ locker room was near where the press was. I remember Isiah Thomas was walking out near me and I said, “Man, tough night tonight,” and he said, “Well I can’t guarantee you that were going to win this game but were going to make it close because they ran off the floor celebrating like the game was over and were too stupid to believe that.” The Pistons ended up winning that game by like eight points – they made a 15-2 run or something and then Seattle started to choke a little bit – but that was that mental toughness where, “We still believe we have a chance because that other team is over there jumping up and down and we’re ready to take care of business.”

Bubba Urdan, head ball boy, 1986-1991:

The determination and the will to win.

James “Buddha” Edwards, center, 1988-1991:

Oh man, I would say that we were a close team, everyone had each other’s back. We had a common goal and everyone just got along well together.

David Bing, point guard, 1966-1975; Mayor of Detroit, 2009-2013:

I think what stands out is they were such a deep team. Their second team could play against most of the other teams in the league. They had 10 to 11 really good players.

Was there something about the way they played that appealed to the city of Detroit?

Bing:

Oh yes, absolutely, I think Detroit is still looked upon as a blue-collar town and they want teams that are physical and tough and I think both those championship teams were tough and physical. You don’t see many teams in the league today that play that style of basketball.

Edwards:

Oh, most definitely, they loved the way we played. Nobody else did, but Detroit fans loved the way we played, and we fed off of the fans a lot.

Rick Mahorn, power forward, 1985-1989:

It was like we embodied what Detroit was all about. Hard, working-class families. Winning the championship solidified our city so that people were proud, and not just in Detroit but the whole state of Michigan.

Foster:

We like tough physical basketball and I think Detroit liked the fact that they could knock MJ on his ass and get away with it. I think they loved Mahorn and Laimbeer, who knocked people down and Isiah, who was kind of like a street guy out there. So they weren’t spectacular but they made you pay for things and they played that blue-collar brand of basketball that people around here love

George Blaha, Pistons play-by-play TV announcer, 1976-Present:

I think the people of Detroit and all across Michigan loved the Pistons’ don’t-back-down-ever mentality. Detroit’s a working person’s town and that’s the same type of fan that you have all across the state of Michigan from the big cities to the small towns. Never does a day go by that somebody that I talk to doesn’t bring up the Bad Boys; they loved ‘em.

Dan Leach, pre-game/post-game radio host, 2013-14; lifelong fan:

That’s why I think people fell in love with the Pistons. They identified with a hard-working team that wasn’t flashy but had all these great players that had their role and that worked as a unit – and that’s why there’s that lineage with the ’04 championship team that didn’t have superstars either but worked as a team. I think that really identified with the city and that’s why so many people became basketball fans. There were hundreds of thousands that liked basketball but were like, “Whatever,” but once they saw that brand of basketball they became really inspired by them.

What do you recall from those playoff clashes against Jordan’s Bulls and Magic’s Lakers?

Bing:

Those are two of the greatest players ever, and to watch the way the Pistons played them was really interesting. Jordan would not drive to the hoop and do some of the fantastic stuff that he liked to do because he knew he was going to get beat up and hit. And the same thing is pretty true with Magic. Magic didn’t have the leaping ability that Jordan had, so he played out on the perimeter and made it easy for his teammates, but once again the Pistons didn’t back down. Back then, they didn’t back down from anybody.

Urdan:

It was absolutely amazing to see the way the Bulls protected Michael, especially when the Pistons were around. The Pistons didn’t care that M.J. was the best player on the court, they didn’t care about his shoe contract, they didn’t care about anything else other than winning. It didn’t matter if it was Jordan, Magic, Larry Bird, Kareem, Dr. J, if you got in our way – and I say ‘our’ – but if you got in their way they just went right through you. They didn’t care about your reputation, they didn’t care about your name, they just wanted to win – and they did.

Edwards:

The Lakers were champions before us so we wanted to dethrone them. We came up short that first year, but the next year we came back and smacked ‘em up pretty good. The following year we won in Portland. Playing against the best and beating the best, that just makes you feel good. The Lakers had been up there all that time and the Bulls were getting better and better all the time, Michael Jordan was the best player in the league, so to beat those guys was very satisfying.

Mahorn:

I didn’t have to stand up to the Bulls, they were trying to be who we were. I never had any doubts the teams we were fighting against to win a championship were the Celtics and the Lakers. Chicago was still trying to figure themselves out. But the Celtics and the Lakers were always rich with tradition, and I think that motivated us to be part of history.

Leach:

That was, in my opinion, the golden era of basketball. I remember going to those games, going to the NBA Finals against the Lakers at the Palace, going to games in the old Silverdome the year they lost to the Lakers on the phantom Kareem foul, going to Celtics games against Larry Bird. Being at those games with my Dad, who is the inspiration for my sports life, there weren’t many things more special in my life. When you’re in that arena and you’ve got 20,000-plus on their feet, watching the Pistons take down Larry Bird and the Celtics, watching them shut down Michael Jordan, watching them play Magic and Kareem and James Worthy and Byron Scott and the Lakers in an NBA finals game, as a 12-year-old kid, it doesn’t get much better than that. But there was always a feeling that the Pistons were going to get the job done. Yea, you had anxiety, you were nervous – you never know who’s going to win a game – but back then, even as a kid, we wanted them to win and we had this feeling in our heart that they were going to win.

What are your remembrances of Chuck Daly?

Mahorn:

One of the best coaches I ever played for. A guy that told you what he needed, was straightforward and was never going to sugarcoat anything. It wasn’t about your individual goals it was all about your team goals.

Edwards:

Oh, Chuck was a great coach. He knew how to handle everybody’s personalities, he knew how to give guys minutes. If you’re hot out there – he didn’t care who it was – if you’re hot the ball’s going to go to you until you cool off. Rest in peace, Chuck. He was one of the best coaches ever, you can ask any of the guys that played on the Olympics team with him. Everyone loved Chuck.

Foster:

One of the things he used to do was empower players without them knowing it. I think at certain times they didn’t believe in Chuck Daly, so Chuck, instead of arguing and screaming at them, would say, “Okay, let’s do it your way,” and then when it didn’t work they would come to Chuck and say, “Maybe we should do this,” which a lot of times was what Chuck told them to do in the first place, and he’d say, “Yea okay let’s do that.” Well it was Chuck’s idea but the players thought it was their idea.

Blaha:

Chuck Daly was a true pro coach. He understood that he was coaching a bunch of millionaires and that he had to, in his own way, give them their space. But he was the kind of guy who absolutely commanded respect. He didn’t have to ask for it, he didn’t have to demand it, he just got that kind of respect. He was a classy, flashy guy. In fact, John Salley gave him the forever-nickname ‘Daddy Rich.’ He called him that because Chuck dressed like a millionaire.

Urdan:

Daddy Rich. The best-dressed coach in the NBA. He came from a very modest name, started off as a high school basketball coach. Chuck was a great guy, he offered anything to everybody and he worked with each player on an individual basis. Each one of those players – whether it be Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, William Bedford, Michael Williams, Fennis Dembo, Vinnie Johnson, John Salley, The Worm – they all had different personalities and each one needed to be massaged a certain way and Chuck was the consummate coach, he could see what every individual needed.

Bing:

Chuck Daly was the consummate coach. He didn’t try to over-coach. He had some really good players and he allowed them freedom. He had Isiah, who was an extension of him as a floor general and Isiah was very demanding of himself and the other players. Those players got along well, they liked each other and they had one goal in mind: to win. Whatever it took to win, that’s what they did.

Leach:

Chuck Daly was the master, man. A brilliant Xs and Os guy, a brilliant motivator. Listen, Jordan won six titles. The only time he really had trouble in his career was against the Pistons. Once they finally got by the Pistons it all changed for Jordan, who never lost in the finals. But I think Chuck Daly was the reason the Pistons were able to win those titles.

Who was the single most important player in that two-year run of dominance?

Bing:

Oh there’s no doubt that Isiah was. He was a leader, he was the guy that set everybody else up.

Leach:

Isiah Thomas, without a doubt. It’s no disrespect to Dumars who was a phenomenal defender, no disrespect to Dennis Rodman, who was a ridiculous rebounder and a total energy guy, and no disrespect to Laimbeer, who was such an important shooter and defender. But Isiah was the catalyst, Isiah was the leader and when you needed to get some points scored, the way Michael Jordan did it or Steph Curry does it, Isiah was that guy.

Urdan:

Flip a coin: Isiah or Bill Laimbeer…But you probably have to tip the scales a little bit to Isiah. Isiah was not rated in the same league at the time as Jordan, Magic and Larry Bird. But the funny thing was, if you look back at the games they played when Isiah needed to step up and do something and become a winner, Isiah elevated his game above those three, he was actually better than them and he beat them. A true fighter, a true winner, a class act.

Blaha:

Well the single most important player in the history of the Detroit Pistons is Isiah Thomas, and arguably the greatest guy inch for inch, pound for pound to ever handle the basketball in the NBA. So with his mental toughness and his physical toughness and his incredible ability, that’s the one guy you don’t win without. But there were an awful lot of great players on those teams – he had a lot of help.

Foster:

I would always say Isiah Thomas, not only for what he did on the floor but because he set the agenda, and Mahorn and Laimbeer kind of fell in lock-step. And I do believe he had a pathway to the front office with [general manager] Jack McCloskey and [owner] Bill Davidson and Chuck Daly, so he wasn’t just a player, he was a guy that was telling them who they should bring in, telling them how they should do things, making suggestions and things like that. He was also the captain of the team, and he struck fear in players that he thought didn’t belong on the team and embraced those who he knew could help the team.

The Pistons lost the 1988 Finals in seven games to the Lakers. In what way was that used as fuel entering the 1989 season?

Edwards:

Well watching them celebrate as we went back into the locker room pissed off, that’s the best motivation right there to come back the next year. We had a taste of it and we were that close and we let it slip away. They were a championship team and that’s why they came back on us. We weren’t ready to handle that [in ‘88] but the following year we were.

Foster:

After’ 88 they were very upset, they thought they should have been NBA champions that year. In fact, they thought they should have been NBA champions two years before that but wacky things happened with the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Then in ‘88 – a lot of people call it the Phantom Call, the Bill Laimbeer foul on Kareem Abdu-Jabbar. The Pistons felt that they had won that series and they knew they had to bounce back quickly because they were getting up there in age, and they felt that the NBA kind of screwed them and Isiah Thomas always felt that the media in L.A. and Chicago and Boston was more powerful than the media here and that they were able to push agendas that the league bought into. So I think they felt if they didn’t do it in those next two or three years that was going to be it.

Leach:

That team knew that they should have won that series. And they knew they weren’t going to get the hero calls, they were still the new kid on the block. They came back and I remember just watching all these different interviews and reading stuff in the newspaper and they were motivated from the second that season started and they knew they were on a mission to win the title. Sweeping the Lakers in ’89 after them losing to them in seven games the year before – that sent a pretty big message.

Blaha:

It’s not easy to come back when you probably should have won the title the year before and do it all over again, but they had such a tough-minded group that they were able to do just that.

Midway through the 1989-99 season, the Pistons traded Adrian Dantley for Marc Aguirre. What was the impact of that deal?

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Urdan:

The biggest thing that happened by switching from Adrian Dantley to Mark Aguirre was you turned it from a slow, low-post game to a fast-paced, running game and we could let our horses run. You saw John Salley and Dennis Rodman start streaking the court because the trade really took us from a slow, methodical, thinking game to a fast-paced, let’s-run-with-the basketball style. Mark gave us that and it really helped us and I think probably it’s the sole reason we were able to win the championships.

Foster:

I think the impact was Dennis Rodman – we got to see more of Dennis Rodman. But Aguirre, who was supposed to be a guy that was disruptive and selfish and all this kind of stuff, totally bought in. Dantley was drifting off into his own thing – I’m not saying he couldn’t play, he could play – but he stopped the ball and they wanted to continue the ball movement. Dennis Rodman – and this is why I say he was the offshoot – he would do anything you told him to. He would jump in the stands, he would rebound, he would defend, it didn’t matter. He just wanted to win. And I think once they got his energy as opposed to Dantley hanging onto the ball for four or five seconds it changed the way you had to defend the Pistons.

Edwards:

We would’ve won either way, we would’ve won with Marc or with Adrian. But A.D. could be kind of stubborn sometimes (laughing) so we couldn’t have that on the team. If coach tells you to come out, you better get your butt out. Marc came in and he was a professional. He went to Chuck and said, ‘Chuck you should start Dennis [Rodman].’ That tells you a lot about a person right there. A guy who goes from starting when he was in Dallas and a leading scorer comes to our team and plays a role and that’s why we won, because guys sacrificed

The Pistons squared off with the Celtics for the fourth time in five years in the 1989 playoffs. What do you remember about that rivalry?

Leach:

I’ll never forget, one of the most devastating moments in my sports life was: “Bird steals the ball, Bird steals the ball!” I was watching the game, [Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals] and it was a holiday, my family was over, and when Bird stole the ball my dad shut the TV off. There was still a little time left so I’m like, “Why are you turning the TV off?!?!” He’s like, “I can’t watch it anymore.” So losing to the Celtics and not being able to get by them was such an ire for us as Pistons fans, and then seeing them dominate the Celtics at the end was something that, as a Detroit Pistons fan, you cherished. You knew you beat the best. They were the masters and taking them down brought the Pistons to the next level.

Foster:

I think you could see the end of the Celtics. Larry Bird was old, [Robert] Parish was old, Dennis Johnson was old, but they were still competitors, they didn’t want to lose to the Pistons obviously, but the Pistons were clearly the better team. There was resentment on both sides: the fact that Larry Bird got rid of Isiah Thomas’s coach at Indiana, there’s still resentment there. But you have to understand, they fought each other, they beat each other up, they hated each other and it was a perfect backdrop – Boston’s a tough town, Detroit’s a tough town, and Detroit was unsuccessful against the Celtics and once they beat the Celtics in ‘88 and ‘89 they felt they had arrived. I’ve talked to Isiah and he thinks the ‘85 Celtics were the best of that era and so if they could overcome that then they thought they could beat anybody.

Urdan:

The best part about it was it was hard fought – the fights, the cheap shots by ‘The Chief’ Robert Parish when he clobbered Laimbeer when he wasn’t even looking – they were hard-fought games. It was two great teams with talented players going toe to toe. The NBA isn’t the same anymore. You can look at the NBA today and you see a bunch of individuals. Charles Barkley talks about it all the time, how the game is just not the same. And he’s right. It was a special time. All the teams were much better than the teams today, they might not have been as athletic but the players were better people. It was a good time; it was the best time.

In the 1989 Finals, the Pistons held the Lakers to just 92.9 points per game on their way to a series sweep. Just how good was their team defense?

Urdan:

Pistons defense was the best ever. I mean originally it was orchestrated by Ronnie Rothstein, but at the time [of the ’89 Finals] he had already departed and gone to the Heat and we had Brendan Suhr and Brendan Malone as our assistant coaches and these guys harped on defense. It was the full-court press and the hard-fought attitude – you saw Rodman going after every loose ball, after every blocked shot, after every rebound that he could and those things mattered.

Bing:

Nobody played as fiercely as they did [on defense.] You had Joe in the backcourt, you had Rodman at the forward position, and they were two of the best at their positions. The other guys played tough also, but those two guys could shut you down.

Blaha:

They were good on both ends of the court. They were very efficient on offense and they made sure it was very, very tough for you to score on the other end. At that point in time the X-factors, John Salley and Dennis Rodman off the bench, became incredible stoppers. Not only just straight up defense but in John’s case and Dennis’ case, too, excellent shot-blockers. You can’t get a stop in the NBA until you finish that stop with a defensive rebound and Laimbeer was one of the best defensive rebounders of that era. He would gobble them up, and then the possession was over.

Leach:

I think it was the best defensive team in the NBA in the last 30 years. There’s been other teams that have had their moments, but that Bad Boys team that swept the Lakers, there was no question when you went into a game with them, no matter who you were, you knew you were going to have trouble scoring.

Mahorn:

Individually we were very good defenders but also we had the great team concept. If you can play guys individually within the scheme it helps the whole team out. Very physical, and we understood our roles as a group of very intelligent basketball players.

Edwards:

We prided ourselves on playing defense. Our defense was probably more of a priority than our offense because if we shut down teams that was going to cause our offense to be better so we took a lot of pride in our defense.

When Rick Mahorn left in the 1989 offseason, he seemed to take some of the team’s vigor with him. Did the Pistons become a more disciplined team in 1990?

Foster:

I don’t think they had as much gusto at the start of the season, at least. They didn’t feel they could beat up people like they used to. During the White House ceremony, Isiah Thomas said goodbye to the Bad Boys because Mahorn wasn’t there and that really made a big difference. I don’t think it was a disciplinary thing, I just think they had to change because Mahorn wasn’t with them, and let’s face facts, he knocked some people down and that may have played a role in it, so I don’t think they were as brave as they used to be.

Blaha:

I think they were probably more mature, maybe, and had a slightly better feel for what it took to win but I wouldn’t say they were a lot more disciplined. They knew what they were doing in ‘87 and ’88 as well.

Urdan:

Much more disciplined, they talked about it all the time – and it was very special to be around these guys – they were very focused, all they wanted to do was win. They still got into fights in practice, the players fought each other, they got upset at each other because the drive and the determination and the will to win was there and it mattered more to them than anything else. So if a guy went out late one night and he came in the next day and wasn’t so into it, the team punished him. You guys didn’t hear about a lot of the things that the team did to punish each other.

Leach:

Mahorn was such an important force in the mentality. A lot of basketball is mentality. You’ve got the best players in the world going at each other and a lot of is who has the mental edge to hit that big shot, to get that big rebound, to not let an opposing crowd get in your head. Mahorn was the guy who was the catalyst, he got things going. When he left, they didn’t lose their identity because they still had great players on that team, but Mahorn was the guy that really got everything going. Laimbeer and him were the Bruise Brothers, they’re on the famous Bad Boys poster together. He was such a force in giving the belief to the rest of the team that no one was going to touch them.

With the 1990 Finals tied at 1, the Pistons headed for Portland, where they hadn’t won a game in 16 years. They went 3-0 on the Trail Blazers’ home floor to clinch their second straight championship. What happened?

Edwards:

I don’t think those guys were ready for us. They ran into the locker room after they beat us in Game 2 and Terry Porter’s yelling, “Yea were gonna win this at the crib, were not gonna go back to Detroit!” Yea, you dang right it ain’t going back to Detroit, we swept your ass in three straight. But we were on a mission, we sacrificed a lot of things, we put a curfew on ourselves so we could get some extra rest because you don’t make it to the Finals many times and you got to take advantage of your chances. 

Leach:

When you look at these Bad Boys teams, I’ve talked a lot about belief and the ability to rise above everything, including not winning in Portland in forever. I remember watching those games and Portland had some great players – Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey – they were a very formidable opponent. And the Rose Garden was one of the toughest places to play in the NBA. Detroit went in there and said, “Listen, we’re not scared of you, we’re taking this down.” That was a pretty amazing thing to see a team that had been devastatingly awful in Portland go in there and say, “Listen, it’s over.”

Foster:

At the end of Game 3, Laimbeer was on the bench and he said, “Well there goes the streak,” because they’d been hearing about it from us all the time. “You say we can’t win here, we’re going to prove you guys wrong.”

Bing:

Absolutely surprising, because Portland was a very strong franchise back then. They had a lot of good players. It was tough going out to the West Coast. If you had to play any of the good teams on the West Coast it was very tough. You had the Lakers, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix was pretty good back then, but Portland was very dominant on their home floor. For the Pistons to win three was unbelievable.

Blaha:

I think on paper it looks like a huge deal but those were regular season games [in that winless streak] that a lot of these players didn’t play in. It’s only one game a year for a few years for those guys. I think they went to Portland with a great deal of confidence. I remember telling some friends of mine in the media and the players, as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pistons don’t have to come back, if they just finish the series out here because they had already won one in Detroit so all they had to was win out in Portland and call it a day.

Before Game 3 in Portland, Joe Dumars’ father passed away. Dumars’ and the rest of his teammates found out after the game. Did that become a rallying point for the Pistons in Games 4 and 5?

Edwards:

Well yes, we were pretty close. If your teammate’s father dies it’s like your own father passing away. It’s just hard for everybody to lose somebody like that, especially when you’re playing in the playoffs and I think it gave Joe a lot of motivation because he knew his dad was looking down on him.

Blaha:

I think it did. Joe Dumars was a very important part of that team and everybody who played on that team contributed to the championships and Joe, obviously a half-of-fame talent, was one of the key contributors. He was such a pro and did such great work on both ends of the court. The fact that they knew he was playing with a heavy heart inspired the rest of the guys.

Urdan:

Yea, you know, they wanted to win for Joe, they wanted to win for themselves, but more importantly they really wanted to win for the city, they wanted to win for the people of Detroit.

In Game 5, Vinnie Johnson sunk the championship-winning shot with 0.7 seconds left. What does that moment look like in your mind almost 30 years later?

Foster:

I was second row on the court and I didn’t know what he was doing. My first thought was, “Is Vinnie screwing up?” and then he rose up and when it went in I’m like, “Oh my God he did make that.” On that play Isiah had the ball and he just gave it to Vinnie – it wasn’t even a play he just gave it to him – because he said, “Well he’s hot, he’s going to make that shot.” So Vinnie just got it, and this is the situation Vinnie loves, he wants to shoot the basketball. I just thought it was a failed play to be honest with you and then when he hit it I’m like, “Oh good play.” (laughing). And that was how he got the nickname ‘Double-0-7.’

Leach:

I remember when he hit it, I literally ran around my basement for about two minutes until I was out of breath. I was jumping on the couch, I was jumping off the couch. There’s no bigger sports moment in my life, on the positive side, than Vinnie hitting that shot. I was 13, it was 26 years ago now, and I remember it like it was literally five seconds ago. That shot is burned into my mind. I remember them replaying it over and over again, I remember the radio call, what it sounded like on TV. When I’m 70 or 80, I’ll remember it like it was yesterday.

Edwards:

I have a basketball card where once he hits that shot I’m jumping up on the bench (laughing). I remember that like it was today. I ran onto the court and hugged Vinnie and brought him back to the bench.

Urdan:

I was at the end of the bench. I jumped up and had the Gatorade bag with all the uniforms on my shoulder, and I grabbed Chuck Daly. I mean, it was incredible, just absolutely amazing. Sitting there and looking across the floor and seeing Mr. Davidson and his partners was just a truly special moment. It was a great time of my life, it was a great time for the players, obviously, and a great time for the city of Detroit.

Where do the 1988-89/1989-90 Pistons rank in the pantheon of great NBA teams?

Blaha:

They’re among the greatest teams of all time, clearly. It’d be wonderful to have all those teams that are mentioned as the best ever get together in their prime for some awesome NBA tournament, but believe me: the Bad Boys would more than hold their own. They would be one tough out.

Foster:

I’ll tell you what – and this might be the wrong thing – but what happened in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s in the NBA doesn’t matter to me. I don’t think those teams were as good as this team and their opponents so I’ve had the Pistons ranked as number five all-time.

Leach:

I think when you go through the history of the sport, even as the game changes, they’re still an underrated team on the national stage. I think they’re definitely a top-five all-time team. Because the defense was so damn good, they had Isiah, they had Joe Dumars, they had scorers, they had VJ, they had great bench players, they had Bill Laimbeer. As a unit, as a team, and as a defensive-minded enigma, there were not many teams that could do all that throughout the history of the NBA

Edwards:

Oh we’ve gotta be one of the greatest defensive teams ever. And offensively we could score with anybody because we had outside scoring, we had inside scoring, so they have to rank us up there. They might not want to (laughing), but they have to.

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Note: Some answers were edited for brevity and clarity.