Drew Sharp has a great article in the Detroit Free Press today on the birth of the "Detroit Bad Boys" nickname in 1988:
"It just came up in discussion," said Don Sperling of NBA Entertainment, the league's marketing branch that produced a video of the Pistons' 1987-88 run to the brink of its first league championship.
"We're talking about possible titles," Sperling recalled, "and somebody came up with the phrase 'Bad Boys.' And if there was ever an occasion when a concept just immediately clicked, that was it. We thought it was perfect. The Pistons thought it was perfect. But little did anybody realize the staying power it would have -- even to this day.
"I still catch hell from people for it."
But its legacy endures as one of the great sports marketing brands.
If you see Rasheed Wallace walking around with a wooden stake tonight, now you know why:
Tonight's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals marks the first time since June 3, 1988, at the Silverdome that these teams met on the floor with a berth in the NBA Finals at stake.
Dumars remembers that night well.
The Pistons held a 3-2 series lead. Laimbeer walked into the locker room prior to the game with a wooden stake. The message was that the devil is never dead until the stake is driven through its heart.
The Pistons won, 95-90.
Bird and Kevin McHale left the floor before time expired. McHale congratulated both Laimbeer and Thomas, telling them not to be satisfied for merely clearing the hurdle that finally got them to the NBA Finals.
Nobody ever remembers that last part! Everybody always talks about how the Pistons snubbed the Bulls by walking off before time expired in 1992 1991 without faulting the Celtics for starting the ugly little tradition.
In any case, read the whole article; I rarely find Sharp's columns worth linking here, but this is an exception, whether you're a nostalgia addict like myself or simply someone looking for perspective on what this rivalry used to mean.