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 /
2 of 16
Earl Cureton, Detroit Pistons
Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images /

. Power forward, Center. 1983-86. Earl Cureton. 15. player. 64

The Bad Boys were a team focused on its defense, and one way that was manifested was effectively playing two center-sized players all the time. Bill Laimbeer was one of the team’s leaders and a perennial starter, but his wingman down low rotated throughout the 80s.

More from All-Time Lists

When the Detroit Pistons signed Earl Cureton in 1983, they acquired a player with championship pedigree. Cureton won a title with the Moses Malone – Julius Erving 76ers in 1983 before joining the Pistons to shore up their frontcourt.

He would play three seasons with the Pistons, serving as the third big as they developed from talented up-and-comers to East contenders.

Cureton was never one to stuff the stat sheet, but he was a solid defender in the post. All three of his seasons in Detroit he had a strong defensive BPM (Box Plus-Minus), despite limited minutes. More than his on-court contributions, Cureton had a deep and lasting connecting with the city of Detroit and the organization.

The Detroit native played six more seasons in the NBA and another half-dozen abroad, even winning another title in 1994 with the Houston Rockets. Yet in recent years, he has returned to the Pistons and to Detroit, serving as the franchise’s community ambassador for the past four seasons.

Cureton was not a part of the Pistons’ title runs, but he — like a couple of other players on this list — helped to establish the foundation of what was to come.