Looking back at the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons

With ESPN airing the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance, there is more focus on the Detroit Pistons from the 1980’s and early 1990’s.They were called the “Bad Boys” for a good reason, and they did cross over from playing tough, physical basketball to playing dirty. But the Pistons do deserve more respect than they get, because they were a great team with some extremely talented players.

Isaiah Thomas was arguably the greatest “little man” to ever play in the league. He could score, set up teammates and defend. Playing an NBA Finals game on a bad ankle was legendary. Joe Dumars was also a great scorer, passer and defender. Bill Laimbeer was 25 years ahead of his time as a stretch big man who could hit three-point shots. Dennis Rodman was the greatest rebounder of all time, and could defend multiple positions – including centers who were 4 or 5 inches taller.

What caught my attention in the coverage of The Last Dance was Jordan’s relentless bullying of his teammates, especially as compared to his complaints about the Pistons.I am sure some would defend Jordan’s treatment of teammates by saying he was a fierce competitor who wanted to win. Well, the Pistons were also fierce competitors who wanted to win, so they played a tough, physical style of basketball.

The concept is fairly simple: If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out. It is difficult to take Jordan seriously when he complains about the Pistons while bullying his own teammates.