Detroit Pistons: 15 players who defined the Bad Boys era

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images /
10 of 16
Vinnie Johnson, Detroit Pistons
Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images /

64. . Shooting guard. 1982-91. Vinnie Johnson. 7. player

The Bad Boys backcourt was practically an NBA institution, with Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars making a combined 18 All-Star games and eight All-NBA teams. Yet no Detroit guard played in as many games during the Bad Boy era as Vinnie “Microwave” Johnson.

Johnson was the sixth man for the Bad Boys, starting only when Thomas or Dumars were out, but always logging consistent minutes. From 1985 (when Dumars was drafted) to 1991 when he left the team, Johnson appeared in 485 out of 492 possible regular season games. He started in just 72 of those games, the quintessential sixth man as well as a true iron man (he missed just seven games over all 9.5 seasons with the team).

While never a strong outside shooter — Johnson was a career 25.4 percent from 3-point range — the 6-foot-2 guard was a master at getting to his spots and hitting jumpers from all angles. In fact, it was just such a move that gave him his career moment.

In the 1990 NBA Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, Detroit held a 3-1 series lead looking to close out the series at home. Portland was up seven with two minutes to go. Detroit would then rip off a 9-0 run to finish the game, closed out by Johnson nailing a contested jumper with 00.7 seconds left to give the Pistons the lead and the title. This earned The Microwave a new nickname: “007” after the time remaining on the clock.

At the age of 35, Johnson was waived by a Pistons team beginning its teardown, and he played one more season with David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs before retiring. Johnson was then a color analyst on Pistons radio broadcasts for the next 11 years, staying closely tied to the organization.