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 /
15 of 16
Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons
Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images\ /

64. . Point guard. 1981-94. Isiah Thomas. 2. player

The most well-known player from the Bad Boys was point guard Isiah Thomas, an NBA superstar from the jump. The 6-foot-1 Thomas was an All-Star in his rookie season and every consecutive year throughout his career until his final, injury-riddled season in 1994. In addition to 12 All-Star appearances, he racked up hardware as Finals MVP, All-Star MVP (2x) and of course won two titles.

Thomas was part of a new wave of NBA stars who all knew each other and fraternized off the court. Thomas was good friends with Mark Aguirre and Magic Johnson, even staying hours with Johnson after a crushing Game 7 Finals loss in 1984 to console him. Yet for all of his star power and off-court relationships, on-court Thomas was a Bad Boy through and through.

The forging of a true title contender came with many pains, and that included Thomas himself. In the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals Thomas scored to put the Pistons up 1, then the Pistons got a stop and simply had to inbound the ball. Instead Thomas panicked and, as he tried to get the ball out quickly, none other than Larry Bird swooped in and stole it to set up the game-winning shot.

Thomas also has a number of feel-good stories, such as dropping 25 points on the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1988 NBA Finals despite injuries sustained.

Earlier in his career, he scored 16 points in just 90 seconds. He was a leader of the Pistons, and played a style of basketball that got others involved while still giving himself enough shots to be a difference maker.

Rumors swirl around Thomas even decades after his retirement. Did he orchestrate the walkout of the Pistons on the Chicago Bulls in 1991? Why was he really left off the 1992 Dream Team — was it merely just pettiness? Thomas is still an enigmatic figure involved in basketball, and his role leading the Bad Boys was a significant one.