Dick Vitale and the worst team in Detroit Pistons history

Dick Vitale is the center of this sideline huddle as he confers with his Detroit University players.69g1fk06
Dick Vitale is the center of this sideline huddle as he confers with his Detroit University players.69g1fk06 /
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This year’s Detroit Pistons are challenging the1979-80 team coached by Dick Vitale, for the worst record in franchise history.

So far this season, the Detroit Pistons have been competitive, but not winning many games. Their current record of 3-10 gives them a .231 winning percentage.

If they continue at this pace, Detroit will finish in a 72-game schedule at 17-55. That is pretty bad, but it would only be the second-worst record in Pistons history.

The top honor (if one can call it that) for the rottenness record would still be held by the 1979-80 Detroit Pistons. In an 82-game season, they went 16-66 for a (shudder) .195 winning percentage.

How bad is that? Extrapolated to football, it would be like the Detroit Lions going 3-13.

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Despite the horrid record, the ’79-80 Pistons were an interesting group. Its owner and two players were future Naismith Hall of Famers. It also had a former No. 1 overall draft pick and a couple of players who were Detroit mainstays for many years.

And coaching them was someone who has become the most famous basketball personality in the country.

DIck Vitale and 1979-80 Detroit Pistons

Dick Vitale’s start in the Motor City came at the collegiate level. He had been an assistant at Rutgers, when he was hired to be the head coach at the University of Detroit.

He was a great success, going 78-30 in four years with the Titans. In 1977, he defeated eventual NCAA champion Marquette in the regular season, and reached the Sweet 16.

Vitale’s success was noticed by the local NBA team. In 1978, Pistons owner Bill Davidson was looking for a new coach and decided to tap the popular local college guy.

Pistons fans were ecstatic: Many put ‘ReVitale-zed’ bumper stickers on their cars.

But not only did Dick Vitale have no NBA experience, he was only seven years removed from coaching high school in New Jersey.

He was everything you would think ‘Dickie V’ would be as coach: Passionate, funny, aggressive and very talkative on the court.

But it did not start well, and then it got worse.