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 /
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Rick Mahorn, Detroit Pistons
Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images /

64. . Center. 1985-89. Rick Mahorn. 5. player

The final entrant in our Twin Towers mini-series, Rick Mahorn was perhaps the nastiest Bad Boy of them all. Mahorn was the most stand-out big to play alongside Bill Laimbeer, playing a significant frontcourt role for the Pistons throughout the late 1980s.

Mahorn was a brick wall in the center of the court, making it his personal mission to stop opponents from making it to the rim. If anyone on the Pistons deserved the title of “enforcer”, it was Mahorn. He had no qualms about knocking opponents around.

The goal of the “Bad Boys” persona was primarily mental, not physical. If opponents were focused on standing up to Laimbeer and Mahorn, rather than playing their game, then the Pistons had won the mental battle and the victory was all but ensured. Mahorn loved the challenge of “getting in their heads” no matter the opponent.

Part of being unafraid to chuck players off their spots and forcefully protect the paint was being labeled as a villain. While guarding Boston Celtics big man Kevin McHale in the 1988 playoffs Mahorn was accused of purposefully stomping on McHale’s injured foot. Whether it was true or not, Mahorn was labeled a villain — and he may not have minded that.

After the Pistons won the title in 1989 with Mahorn as a starter, the addition of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Orlando Magic triggered an expansion draft. Teams could protect just eight players, and a stacked Pistons team was forced to leave at least one key player unprotected — and that ended up being Rick Mahorn. He was drafted by the Timberwolves and was torn away from the championship team he viewed as family.

Mahorn never put up incredible stat lines, as that was not his role. He knew why he was there, and why he was important to the Pistons’ success. While his longevity with the team was low enough to keep him from the very top of this list, Mahorn was a Bad Boy to his core.