The Detroit Pistons Bad Boys were popular from 1986/1987-1991/1992.
This Bad Boy Era began prior to the 1986 season when they drafted John Salley and Dennis Rodman to go along with Bill Laimbeer, Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. After losing in the 1986 playoffs, Coach Chuck Daly decided the team needed to be more physical on defense.
This new defensive philosophy got them the nickname the Bad Boys. They played with a reckless abandon and were not intimidated by anyone. The Pistons became known as ‘The Bad Boys’ for their hard-nosed style of play that troubled many in the league but was embraced by the Detroit fans, which is considered a tough blue collar city.
They played hard and fouled harder. They got the reputation as being a dirty team and their hard physical defensive style made it easy for other teams to hate them. They were also responsible for the so-called Jordan rules.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated Chuck Daly described the Jordan Rules, “if Michael was at the point, we forced him left and doubled him. If he was on the left wing, we went immediately to a double team from the top. If he was on the right wing, we went to a slow double team.
He could hurt you equally from either wing — hell, he could hurt you from the hot-dog stand — but we just wanted to vary the look. And if he was on the box, we doubled with a big guy. The other rule was, any time he went by you, you had to nail him. If he was coming off a screen, nail him. We didn’t want to be dirty — I know some people thought we were — but we had to make contact and be very physical”.
In response to this physical play it is believed the NBA adopted its own set of Jordan rules. The Pistons got whistled for a lot of fouls when they played the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. It was thought that the NBA instructed the officials to begin protecting Michael Jordan. He was the face of the NBA and could not afford to have MJ get hurt.
Making sure that the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys and the rest of the league did not get to physical with their superstar was a priority for the NBA brass. The Detroit Pistons got donned the Bad Boys but what goes overlooked is how good they were and the run they made. After many dismal years before 1980 and not playing much better in the early 1980s the Detroit Pistons began to climb out of the cellar in 1982.
They drafted Isaiah Thomas in 1981 and acquired Bill Laimbeer in 1982. Adding pieces along the way Chuck Daly was able to build a champion. They lost in the 1986 playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks and lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1988. Fueled by that lost, the Bad Boys advanced to the NBA finals in 1988 eventually losing to the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers.
Finally sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in 1989 playoffs for their first championship they went on to successfully repeat in 1990, beating the Portland Trailblazers. During the Bad Boy Era, the Detroit Pistons won two championships, played in four Eastern Conference Finals and won four division titles.
They will always be remembered for their rough and tumble style, their battles with the Bulls, Michael Jordan and Celtics, Larry Bird and should go down as one of the greatest dynasty in NBA history.