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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Kelly Tripucka, Detroit Pistons
Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images /

player. 64. . Small forward. 1981-86. Kelly Tripucka. 13

If the Bad Boys truly established themselves in the 1986-87 season as a contender, and acquired the poignant Bad Boys moniker the following season, then Kelly Tripucka was never truly a “Bad Boy” in the technical sense of the word. But what he was helped the Pistons win a lot of games, laying the ground work for what was to come.

Throughout the Chuck Daly era in Detroit, he liked a scoring wing at the 3, and Tripucka was the first in that line (to be followed by Adrian Dantley and Mark Aguirre). Detroit selected the smooth-shooting wing in the 1981 NBA Draft, 10 picks after taking Isiah Thomas.

Tripucka averaged 21.6 points per game for the Pistons over five seasons, including a then-team record 56 points in a game in 1983. He was well known for his high socks, trendy mullet and distinct mustache.

When Tripucka and Thomas joined the Pistons, they were coming off a 21-win season. They immediately improved to 39 wins the next season, led by Tripucka and his 7.5 win shares. Once Daly came aboard in 1983, the Pistons began a run of nine-straight trips to the playoffs. Tripucka scored just shy of 8,000 points for the Pistons before he was traded to the Utah Jazz in the package for Adrian Dantley — playing his role in the creation of the Bad Boys.