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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Bill Laimbeer, Detroit Pistons
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64. . Center. 1982-93. Bill Laimbeer. 1. player

The final member of the team always had to be Bill Laimbeer, because he set the tone defensively every bit as much as Isiah Thomas did offensively. Without Laimbeer there are no “Bad Boys”, and very possibly not a title contender. Yet history tells us that there was a Laimbeer, and that he was as impactful as they come.

Laimbeer was a number of things that are all useful in a starting center, especially an All-Star caliber one. He was an iron man to the full application of the term. From 1982 to 1992, Laimbeer missed just three games in total.

He was also a bruiser down below. Together, he and Rich Mahorn sealed off the paint to any and all opponents. Eventually their physical nature of play became part of the team identity, and they adopted the name “Bad Boys.”

Laimbeer overcame a crushing loss to the Los Angeles Lakers where he was called for a phantom foul, the defensive leader for a squad that swept Los Angeles the following year.

Laimbeer was at the center of every standout decision from this squad. From establishing the Jordan Rules, to embracing the Bad Boys label, to the walkout on the Chicago Bulls in 1991, Laimbeer was happily in the mix. He saw that basketball games were won in the minds of the players on the court, and leveraged every angle to gain the advantage.

Laimbeer was never a prolific scorer, although he could score capably from around the rim. He was a monster on the glass, averaging double-digits rebounds for eight straight seasons and overall 10.1 rebounds in his Pistons career. Laimbeer is the Pistons’ franchise leader in offensive and defensive rebounds.

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The Bad Boys were never out to be bad guys, but rather found a way to gain an advantage on their opponents before they even took the court. Laimbeer, Thomas and the rest of the Bad Boys were never the most talented group, but they still found a way to win in the midst of dynastic giants in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. They did so through a tight bond, ferociously tough play, and embracing their role as The Bad Boys.