Detroit Pistons: Where is the championship tradition?

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons are one of only eight teams in league history to win three or more NBA Championships.

Not so long ago, receiving tickets to watch the Detroit Pistons live and in-person at The Palace of Auburn Hills was considered by many to be a “can’t miss” opportunity. Fans were delighted to contribute to consecutive home sellout streaks while watching some of the most hard-nosed basketball in NBA history.

The arena hosted both the “Bad Boys” and “Going to Work” championship-era teams and eventually raised three title banners. It’s not a stretch to claim each era would have likely raised more if not for running into other championship dynasties like the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs.

If you were ever fortunate enough to sit in the upper-level suites at The Palace, you could remember the pre-game heat rising as flames shot out from behind the hoops at both ends of the court. After the flames died down, your eyes would eventually drift to the rafters. There, your eyes would gaze towards a lineup of retired jerseys from those glory days.

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The jerseys displayed in those rafters are the reminders of the “ghosts” of Detroit’s championship past. After setting an NBA futility record of 14-straight playoff losses, those fabrics have been relegated to nothing more than memories haunting Motor City basketball fans.

Every NBA team raises them. But for organizations like the Lakers, you don’t often need them as reminders because former legends like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can usually be found roaming the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The same goes for the Celtics in Boston, where you can often find Bill Russell, Danny Ainge, and Paul Pierce. In San Antonio, it’s not unusual to come across David “The Admiral” Robinson or run into Tim Duncan. Duncan serves as an assistant coach on Greg Popovich’s staff as they pass down championship traditions trying to help mold the next wave of Spurs stars.

Where are Detroit Pistons legends like Isaiah Thomas? Out of all the poor-choices hired as head coaches since Larry Brown’s departure, why hasn’t Bill Laimbeer been one of them?

The rest of the list reads a little like this: Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace. It’s rare to come across any of these guys now as the team plays its home games at Little Caesars Arena.

It’s time to see these Detroit Pistons’ greats return to Motown.

Nostalgia and championship traditions have carried a handful of franchises through their down years. It’s those legends and stars that bridge the gap for these franchises before the front office eventually gets things right returning the organization to relevancy.

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and executive Ed Stefanski have done an excellent job of acquiring head coach Dwayne Casey and GM Troy Weaver to lead the team through this “restoring” period. But, he can still do more.

With a potential lottery pick in the upcoming draft and plenty of cap space in hand to pursue marquee free agents, it’s time for Gores and the Pistons’ franchise to pull out all the stops.  Surely, there have to be positions available in the Motor City for Pistons’ royalty?

Whether it be the press box, the front office, or the sideline, bringing back, these “champions” will reinvigorate both the current players and the fans of Detroit.

Forget about slumping attendance. Seats will be filled again. Then, forget about playoff droughts because the Pistons will begin winning again. It’s all possible, and Gores has the means to make it happen.

Thomas has become a great ambassador for the game of basketball, but why not Detroit Basketball? Certainly, Dumars has something to offer after healing the wounds from his separation; after all, he was the 2003 championship team’s architect.

Laimbeer’s toughness and excitement are needed somewhere near the sidelines, and Prince should be working in Detroit’s front office instead of Memphis’.  Let Billups lead. It’s what he does best.

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These are moves that are essential to execute. Envision walking into a room as a free agent and getting ready to be pitched by a united front of these Detroit Pistons champions. That’s when the team will start raising NBA title banners again.