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A look back at Pistons logos and uniforms: Bad Boys era

With the news that the Detroit Pistons would be debuting alternate uniforms for the 2013-14 season, I thought it would be interesting to explore the history of Pistons unis.

Most fans think of four distinct periods of "Dee-troit Basketball": 1. The old peach basket days where everything is in black and white, and sub-6-foot players were plentiful 2. The simple red, white and blue of the dominant 80s. 3. The *shudder* sad, sad 90s of the "teal era." 4. The return to crimson red, white and royal blue that we've enjoyed ever since.

But the history of the Pistons uniform is a little more complicated than I thought. And believe me, when I thought of this idea I didn't think I'd be spending the large part of several days going down this particular rabbit hole.

I'll look at a different era every day. Today: Bad Boys. Previous posts: Tuesday: Old School. Upcoming: posts: Thursday: Teal era Friday: Modern Day.

For all the logos, I used They also served as an invaluable jumping off point for my search of appropriate photos, which all come from except for the sports cards.

Bad Boys

1979/80 - 1995/96
Playoff appearances: 10
Championships: 2


Primary logo

The era that will define Detroit until it can produce something to rival back-to-back championships. Unfortunately, with the flashy logos becoming en vogue in the 1990s, this classic simple design was discarded for something a little more "hip." Of course, what looked hip then looks, like much of the 1990s, like a tragic, tragic mistake (like the bowl cut or the Macarena).


HOME 1978/79 - 1980/81
M.L. Carr


Technically, these jerseys were a bridge between logo eras, and they certainly don't recall the classic logo at all. But I put them in this slot just to even out post length a little bit.

M.L. Carr is better known as a Celtic, where he won two titles (as did a lot of former Pistons on this list). He played only three seasons in Detroit, but he does have one notable Detroit sports connections we can all appreciate. Remember all those retrospectives about Ben Wallace where we all laughed heartily that Wallace tried to catch on with Boston but the head coach tried to make him into a shooting guard? That coach was Carr.

AWAY 1978/79 - 1980/81
John Long


John Long not only played for a long time for the Pistons, he played a long time period. A native of Romulus, he starred at Detroit Mercy before being selected by the Pistons by former DMU coach Dick Vitale. Long played until the age of 41, including some stellar years for the Pistons. Not many players can say they were teammates of Bob Lanier, Bob McAdoo, all the Bad Boy-era Pistons, Rik Smits, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, Moses Malone, and Marcus Camby. That's right, after a six-year hiatus from the NBA, Long returned to play for the Raptors where he was a teammate of someone still in the league today. And he was drafted in 1978!

HOME 1981/82 - 1995/96
Vinnie Johnson


It was hard to pick players to show off the iconic 80s uniforms. Thomas (below) was a given, but who else? You could pick Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, John Salley, Rick Mahorn. In the end I had to go with the Microwave. As an energetic, undersized little kid who loved sports there was something about Johnson that i was enthralled by. Maybe it was because whenever he entered the game he was never the biggest man on the court but he often made the biggest impact. The sixth man scored in bunches off the bench and gave the Pistons a much-needed lift whenever necessary and had his jersey retired by the team as a result.

ROAD 1981/82 - 1995/96
Isiah Thomas


Forget his unremarkable runs as a head coach or his disastrous time as a general manager, Isiah Thomas was THE dominant point guard of his era not named Magic Johnson. Thomas was the fiercest competitor ever to wear a Pistons uniform, and even though he stood just a shade over 6-feet tall and 175 pounds sopping wet, he wouldn't back down from anyone no matter the circumstance. Together with backcourt mate Joe Dumars, Thomas and the Bad Boy Pistons fought through dominant franchises in Boston and L.A. to eventually bring home back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. He was also a 12-time all-star and was named MVP of the 1990s NBA Finals.