In 1989, the Detroit Pistons put on the floor one of the most enjoyable teams to watch in the NBA that didn't wear the Purple n' Gold, or the Green n' White. While the rest of the country and world sat fascinated by the Bird vs. Johnson, East vs. West wars of the 80's, my interest lay in the spectacular Bad Boy attitude that boiled in the North.
Vinnie "the Microwave" Johnson, Dennis Rodman (before the tattoo's, piercing's and random weirdness), Bill Laimbeer, John Sally, Joe Dumars, James Edwards, Mark Aguirre, and of course the ridiculously talented Isiah Thomas became an obsession.
Whether I was at a family gathering, on vacation, at home, at school, at a friends house, at a neighbors, during the month of May whatever television I was around turned to the Detroit Pistons playoff game.
I guess being a little guy, with hopes of aspiring only to my father's 6' stature; I saw the game domination of Isiah Thomas as hope that I, too, could dominate the game of basketball in my backyard.
"Crossover," "head fake," "crossover," "Bonshire puts his shoulder into Byron Scott," "Scott off balance; 3 seconds left; Bonshire pulls back, fade away 17 footer, Magic almost gets a piece…
"IT'S GOOD!!! Bonshire wins the game!
"The Microwave" jumps on Bonshire as the Pistons win the NBA title for a third year in a row! Further proof he deserves Rookie of the Year honors!"
Ah yes, the moves of "Zeek" immitated terribly in the backyard of a Louisville, KY suburb over, and over, and over again.
It was an odd love for me, as I had always been a fan of whichever professional team was closest to where I lived. It's the plight of the sports fan in the state of Kentucky, with no pro team to call our own.
This time was different, because the Pistons were good, they were mean, they were cocky, and they weren't the Lakers or the Celtics. I seemed to fancy the teams that were good enough to win games, but not historically good enough to be admired and overblown by the rest of the country.
But in time Isiah retired, Mark retired, Vinnie retired after the two championships, and the Bad Boys were now the Bad Commentators. The Pistons lost that winning edge, and so their TV exposure, and thus my love, became less and less.
In 2002 Tayshaun Prince, the golden child of Kentucky basketball graduated and went flying with his 4 million foot wingspan into the NBA. My ears perked just a tad when he was taken 19th, by the Detroit Pistons. Still not enough to regain my interest, I went along with my life mainly ignoring the NBA as usual, until again a Piston, Tayshaun took the headlines with a spectacular NBA playoff performance.
Still my love for the Pistons had not resurfaced itself, until last week when a faithful night of Bad Boy attitude beat its way into the head of every Pacers fan.
Eighteen blocks in a pivotal game 2 of the Eastern Conference playoffs had left the Pacers gunshy, but obviously not gunshy enough for there would be one more block to come.
Reggie Miller was ready to tie the game, fill yet another page in his glorious history of late game heroics, when from the Detroit locker room the Kentucky Bloodlines said,
"NO SOUP FOR YOU!"
In a feat of athleticism and determination only a Tubby-coached Prince could even comprehend attempting, Tayshawn caught up from 3 car lengths back to erase a potential loss from the books of the Detroit Pistons.
Kentucky pride, and that love for the Detroit Pistons was ripping through me yet once again. I had to download the ESPN video footage just so I could experience the disbelief of Doc Rivers over, and over, and over again.
For a second I was seeing the ghosts of Bad Boy past, but are the 2004 Pistons the Bad Boys yet once again? Not quite, but with Prince on the floor they simply are the Sultans of Swat.