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Rick Senger
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Joined: 16 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8657
Posted: 28 April 2020 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I fucking hate the Pistons
*****
Someone needs to do a multi-part series just on the Detroit Bad Boys. Their battles with Boston on the way up were just as epic as their battles were at the top and then on the way back down versus the Bulls. Man how I hated Laimbeer, Thomas, Rodman and Joe Dumars, who could all be dirty but who were so compelling to watch. Laimbeer was just a hacking goon and I hated him most of all but I have to admit, he wasn't afraid of going right at Jordan and Bird, which was unique. This in spite of the fact that MJ and Larry usually ultimately made him look like a fool time and time again.
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Joe Hollon
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Joined: 08 May 2004
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Posts: 13487
Posted: 28 April 2020 at 12:50pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

"Laimbeer was just a hacking goon..."

*****

Four time all star with career averages of right about
13 and 10 and 50% shooting. Just sayin...
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Brian Miller
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Joined: 28 July 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 27195
Posted: 28 April 2020 at 3:02pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Rick’s right, Joe.
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Doug Centers
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Joined: 17 February 2014
Location: United States
Posts: 4159
Posted: 28 April 2020 at 4:45pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

As most will tell you around these parts, we love that others hate the Pistons.
Took a team as gritty and bad ass as those Pistons to bust the lock the Celtics and Lakers had for a decade.

I used to say, I'm sure I would hate Laimbeer if he was playing on any other team. Tho you have to admire a guy that can lead the league in rebounds  with a one inch vertical ( the art of the box out), back down from nobody (love watching Barkley scurrying away from him), a lock at the FT line and could hit a clutch 3 when center's weren't really taking them.
My favorite was probably Vinnie "the Microwave" Johnson, could come off the bench and with a stone cold heart rain 5 or 6 buckets in 3 minutes.
Laimbeer's partner Mahorn had the best hip check in the league and invented "pulling the chair out" down low.


Edited by Doug Centers on 28 April 2020 at 4:46pm
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Rick Senger
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Joined: 16 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8657
Posted: 28 April 2020 at 5:27pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Yeah, if Laimbeer was the goon then Mahorn was the hatchet man... he was incredibly physical but as you say, quite wily, as well. Detroit had some imposing enforcers back in the day (anyone remember Tree Rollins? He was rumored to keep a razor blade in his back pocket "for contingencies.")

Vinnie Johnson absolutely torched the Celtics with some unbelievable offensive games... 48 points in 25 minute type games.

And Doug, I freely admit that if Laimbeer was a Celtic I might have felt differently. Big, slow white guy who maximized his limited abilities and was a major pest? The Celtics had a few of those to be sure... I just felt like Laimbeer was actually out to hurt people whereas the Celtic bigs were just protecting the rim / being intimidating / imposing their will. I admit the line is blurry though.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 28 April 2020 at 6:07pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

They were out to hurt people. One of them straight up admitted it in the
doc.
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Robert Bradley
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Joined: 20 September 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 4419
Posted: 02 May 2020 at 1:54am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Rick - That's a pretty extreme exaggeration about Vinnie Johnson - while he did have his career high against the Celtics it was 35 points (in 36 minutes) on 11/27/85.  He never came close to scoring 48 points in a game against anybody during his career.

Tree Rollins played 1 season for Detroit, appearing in 37 games and playing 202 minutes in the 1990-91 season, averaging 1 point and 1 rebound.  I doubt he ever intimidated anyone as a Piston.  His only really notorious moment came much earlier in his career when he bit Danny Ainge's finger during a scuffle at Boston Garden.

Bill Laimbeer was what he was - a four-time All-Star and starting center on two championship teams in Detroit.  He was a great rebounder and perimeter shooter, but one of the dirtiest players to ever play in the league (and the Celtics have had a few of their own who fall in that category over the years).

There are several things that made Laimbeer unpopular throughout the league.  First he came from a rich family.  At the beginning of his career the joke was that he was the only player in the league that made less than his father.  Second, he was a dirty player, in that he was overly-physical to the point of being reckless.  And third, he showed no remorse for anything he did that opponents or fans didn't like.

Much like the Bulls had to get past the Pistons, the Pistons had to get by the Celtics before they could win a title, so there was a lot of intensity to those games and a lot physical play by Mahorn, Laimbeer and Rodman's (yes, it frequently overly-physical play).  But let's not forget Kevin McHale's clothesline of Kurt Rambis in the NBA Finals.  The Celtics are the team that wrote the book on emplying a :hatchet man" with Bob Brannum ("Cousy's bodyguard"), Jim Loscutoff and Clyde Lovellette.  And they're the team that traded for Kermit Washington after he caved in Rudy Tomjanovich's face.  So the Celtics have always had that side to them too.

Laimbeer, Mahorn and the pistons are probably the main reason we have the strict rules against fighting now, but this has been an emphasis by the league since the Washington/Tomjanovich incident.  And physical play and fighting has always been prevalent.  Detroit (and Pat Riley's Knicks) are probably the last of that type of team though.

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Rick Senger
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Joined: 16 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8657
Posted: 03 May 2020 at 4:47pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Robert, thanks for the Vinnie correction, but I swear it felt like he scored 1,000 points vs Boston a couple times. He always destroyed them, so much so that they tried to trade for him even though he was past it by then. At least he wound up in San Antonio and never again dropped 48 on them even if he never did to begin with. That's why I said he had "48 points in 25 minute type games"... that was my honest memory! Here's one of those games.

Tree Rollins' peak was obviously in Atlanta; I was just naming enforcer names... but back in the day he was one bad mofo not to be messed with and there's no doubt Detroit brought him in for that purpose. You mentioned his biting of Ainge's finger. Some consider Ainge a dirty player but I would differentiate his aggressive "pesky" play from guys like Laimbeer and Mahorn, who were seemingly out to upend guys as opposed to just refusing to back down. I'd say the same about most of the Boston guys you named. Lovellette was in his final two years by the time he got to Boston and he definitely was hard nosed but this was a guy who averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds in six separate seasons, not just some goon. Loscutoff was probably the toughest player I've seen in a Boston jersey but he only averaged 18.5 mpg over an 8 year career; he wasn't a starter notching 30+ mpg like Laimbeer, just a role player logging short but admittedly tough minutes. Brannum played in the 50s for 4 years so way before my time; have you seen much of his play? I've just seen a few old B+W highlights but don't really have much a feel for him; I'd like to learn more so if you know of any good sources like youtube, etc, I'd be interested. Kermit Washington played 32 games total for part of one season for Boston; they signed him because he was a player with some game but was a pariah they could get for nothing because nobody else wanted him at that point after the brutal punch he threw as a Laker.

Speaking of Lakers, Kurt Rambis had engaged in some dirty play of his own during the '84 Finals you referenced, which is why I suspect the officials let McHale's admittedly heinous clothesline go at the time. You're not saying McHale was a dirty player, though, are you? I don't think there's a player in the league that would say that about McHale, who is maybe the best low post offensive wizard I've ever seen and was well liked / respected around the league. That was one isolated play in a moment of weakness for McHale, who claims he was just trying to grab / restrain Rambis but Kurt zigged instead of zagging. I really don't think it's at all representative of McHale's HOF career. This is not to say Boston hasn't had hard nosed players; they definitely have. I just consider Mahorn and Laimbeer to be more extreme examples in that category.

Edited by Rick Senger on 03 May 2020 at 5:04pm
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Rick Senger
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 16 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8657
Posted: 03 May 2020 at 5:49pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Much like the Bulls had to get past the Pistons, the Pistons had to get by the Celtics before they could win a title, so there was a lot of intensity to those games and a lot physical play by Mahorn, Laimbeer and Rodman's (yes, it frequently overly-physical play).
*****
This is why I'd love to see a series on Detroit; those two battles you mention are the perfect up and down bookends for the Pistons' life and death by the same sword and both took three or four years to play out. Detroit had to out-Boston Boston (and though it took years, they finally did it successfully, albeit imho by going a notch more dirty than they should have.) Later, after years of losing to them Chicago had to out-Detroit Detroit (which they did by getting tougher and more physical and weathering / playing through Detroit's hard fouls rather than taking the bait.) I know it sounds like I'm all sour grapes regarding the Pistons but I actually respect their ability to find a way to win. They weren't pretty but they were tough and they got it done. I just hate them.
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Joe Hollon
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Joined: 08 May 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 13487
Posted: 03 May 2020 at 6:13pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

They did a BAD BOYS 30 for 30 a couple years ago as well
as one just on Rodman.
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Doug Centers
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 17 February 2014
Location: United States
Posts: 4159
Posted: 03 May 2020 at 6:15pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

"(and though it took years, they finally did it successfully, albeit imho by going a notch more dirty than they should have.)"

...

Other than a couple of plays I can think of, I would characterize their play during those playoff battles as hard nose, no nonsense, no layup basketball.
I certainly wouldn't blanket the whole team as dirty.
Actually one of the most egregious plays was when the Chief sucker punched Laimbeer twice and wasn't even thrown out of the game.

Of course Rick, you were probably listening to Johnny Most so....... :-)
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Robert Bradley
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Joined: 20 September 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 4419
Posted: 03 May 2020 at 8:34pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Rick - I don't think McHale was a dirty player, but  I do think the clothesline of Rambis was a dirty play.  Lovellete always had the reputation as a dirty player - even when he was highly-productive.  He was a terrific player in college, for the Phillips Oilers and in his early NBA years, but eventually the game got more athletic (the quality of the league took a big leap forward when if got more integrated).  But let's face it - prior to the Washington-Tomjanovich incident the game was much more physical (with the exception of the Ruland/Mahorn Bullets, the Bad Bod Pistons, and a few other isolated incidents).

Like Doug points out, Parish's sucker punch didn't even get him ejected, but nowadays he would probably get suspended at least 5 games because it premeditated and it was a closed fist.

I didn't start watching the NBA until around 1970 so I haven't seen footage of Brannum, but everything I've read credits him with being an early enforcer, if not the first one.  But there were guys with that role, like Wilt's bodyguard, Al "The Destroyer" Attles.

I write basketball reference books and have done a lot of research on fights, suspensions and fines, and you'd be surprised how many fights guys like Tom Chambers, Dolph Schayes, Rick Barry and Tom Heinsohn got into.  But that was one of the common tactics of the time - if you can't beat them, get them kicked out of the game.

So teams had "enforcers" to keep the heat of their star players.  Portland had Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas.  The Lakers had Kareem and Kermit Washington and later on the Bulls had Jordan and Charles Oakley.  In fact, I live two houses down from former Phoenix sub Charles Pittman, and when I met him the first thing that popped into my head was "this guy was so tough he would fight anybody."  And he wasn't unique.  (remember Debbin Awtrey and his reputation as being the guy you gets under Kareem's skin?)

All said, I like how fighting has been taking out of the league and dirty play has been curtailed, but I sure miss how the defenses used to be allowed to play a little bit and you could touch an offensive player without getting a foul called.  It's become a "shoot and fall down" league.

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