2004 Detroit Pistons snubbed from the NBA’s top 75 list
Yes, you read that right. The 2004 Detroit Pistons are one of three championship teams in NBA history that do not have a NBA Top 75 member.
In a short list that includes 1979 Seattle Supersonics and the 1951 Rochester Royals, the Pistons are the only championship team in the modern era (post-1980) that did not have a player included in the Top 75.
However you want to spin it, this is just another statistic that solidifies the reputation of the legendary 2004 team. They are truly the only team in the modern era to win without a superstar.
As the festivities took place during All-Star Weekend, specifically the nearly 30 minute halftime special honoring the NBA greats, it was hard for Detroit Pistons fans not to notice this glaring omission.
I mean, even the 1979 Sonics team was represented partially, as their coach Lenny Wilkins made it as a player.
Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Dave Bing, and Dave DeBusschere were recognized so the Pistons didn’t come up completely empty handed, but someone from the 2004 team needed to be included. (Iverson was also obviously on the list, but do we count him as a Piston?)
If you break it down, this iteration of the Detroit Pistons had two players deserving consideration for the list – Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups.
Detroit Pistons: Ben Wallace has the best case for NBA’s top 75
Ben Wallace’s career accolades surpass many of the players who made the NBA Top 75. He’s a member of the Hall of Fame and a 4-time All-Star. He was All-NBA five times, All-Defense six times, and led the league in rebounds twice.
Most notably, he is tied with Dikembe Mutombo for most all-time with four Defensive Player of the Year awards. Mutombo also didn’t make it, as well as other defensive greats like Dwight Howard and Draymond Green.
With defense being exactly one half of what takes place on the basketball court, it is an omission to leave off arguably the greatest defensive player of all-time.
As for Chauncey Billups, his argument is a little less solid, but it’s still there. He is one of seven Finals MVP’s that didn’t make the Top 75, including another Detroit great, Joe Dumars. The most recent Finals MVP to not make the list was Andre Iguodala and notably one of Billups’ biggest rivals at the point guard position didn’t make it either, Tony Parker.
Billups was a 5-time All-Star, 3-time All-NBA, and 2-time All-Defense. His numbers might not be up there with the likes of Damian Lillard or Chris Paul, but he won more than those guys. Jason Kidd was a shoo-in for the list, and Chauncey found himself on the better end of that match-up multiple times in the playoffs.
Earlier this week, ESPN ranked the Top 75 in order (76 it looks like?) and the results were interesting. The bottom of these rankings included many players from the earliest years of the NBA, but both Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis found themselves at 75 and 71, respectively.
There has been a decent uproar among NBA twitter that both Davis and Lillard are undeserving, mainly in defense of snubs like Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, or Pau Gasol.
I would say that if you swap out one of those two players for Ben Wallace, you have a more complete telling of the history of the NBA.
Looking deeper into the 2004 Pistons, both Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace were pivotal to the championship run and subsequent Finals and Eastern Conference Finals runs. Unfortunately their career accolades and numbers aren’t quite there to be considered. Both may even have a hard time making the Hall of Fame.
But many members of the NBA Top 75 list had absolute fits dealing with Rip and Sheed. I mean, there’s a certain shooting guard from Indiana that couldn’t hang with Rip and I know if you ask Garnett, Duncan, or Dirk, they respect Sheed.
Detroit Pistons fans would have loved to see Big Ben, or even Chauncey, get honored as a member of the NBA Top 75, but I’d argue this snub only increases the aura around this team’s run.
Just in 2004 alone this team ran through multiple NBA Top 75 members in Jason Kidd, Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone.
So whether this team gets their flowers or not, who cares? One thing is true. Banners hang forever.