NBA can not ignore Detroit in 75th anniversary celebration

Olympia Stadium on Grand River Avenue in Detroit, (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)
Olympia Stadium on Grand River Avenue in Detroit, (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images) /

The NBA likes to create reasons to showcase its top teams and talented players. That is OK … most of the time. However, when it claims it will celebrate its ’75th anniversary’, then it must include Detroit.

For a quick pro basketball history lesson, two things you need to know about the NBA’s 75th anniversary.

  1. It really isn’t. In 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) began play, which the NBA officially recognizes as its beginning.
  2. The National Basketball Association was formed in 1949 when, at the kitchen table of Pistons owner Fred Zollner , the BAA and the National Basketball League merged, and the new league was called the NBA.

Any way you look at it, the NBA 75th anniversary must include Detroit

When the BAA began, 75 years ago, Detroit did have a team, the Falcons. They played at the Olympia Arena, home to the NHL’s Red Wings as well.

That was not a coincidence. Most BAA teams were created to give arena owners in the Northeast and Midwest something in their building when the ice hockey teams were not playing. As a remnant of that era, the New York Knicks are still owned by Madison Square Garden.

The Falcons only lasted the 1946-47 season. They were not very good, posting a 20-40 record. They did have one of the top players in the league in center Stan Miasek, but that was not enough.

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The Detroit Pistons come 10 years later

For 10 years, Detroit had no BAA or NBA franchise, until Fred Zollner moved the Fort Wayne Pistons to Detroit in 1957. The Pistons had been around since 1941. They previously won several NBL championships before the merger and then made the NBA finals twice right before the move to the Motor City.

Zollner had owned a piston factory in Fort Wayne, hence the name. According to, the Pistons are the second-oldest franchise still in the NBA (Believe it or not, the Sacramento Kings are the oldest, starting as the Rochester Seagrams in 1923).

When the full NBA schedule comes out, Pistons need to be on it

Shortly, the full NBA schedule will be revealed. The nationally televised games for the first week of the season have been announced … No Pistons. The Christmas Day games have also come out … also no Pistons.

Despite the excitement of having the No. 1 pick in the draft in Cade Cunningham, the NBA league office seemingly does not care. OK, not putting a team on nationally that went 20-52, at least one can see the thought process.

However, when it comes to really honoring the NBA’s 75th (or 72nd depending on your interpretation) anniversary, the Pistons need to be in it.

Detroit was there from the start in 1946. The Pistons have a long basketball tradition, winning championships before there was a BAA or NBA. Their owner was prominent in creating what we know as the modern NBA.

A game between the Pistons and one of the other original franchises like the Knicks, Celtics or Warriors (another fun fact, the Warriors were an outgrowth of the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association team).

Maybe both teams in throwback jerseys. Detroit could wear uniforms (take note Big Sean!) that say ‘Falcons’ on it, to recognize the original pro basketball team in Detroit.

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Yes, ratings are important, but so is a league’s history, and honoring it. If you are selling fans on the NBA 75th anniversary concept, they will be curious about what it was like back then.

Well, in the day, Detroit played the Knicks, the Celtics and the Warriors back then. Hopefully, this part of NBA history will not be ignored so we can see LeBron or Luka or Zion for the 25th time in just another showcase for the big names.