The Detroit Pistons’ 3 championships all had this in common

Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons celebrates with his teammates Rasheed Wallace #30 and Chauncey Billups #1 (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons celebrates with his teammates Rasheed Wallace #30 and Chauncey Billups #1 (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons have won three titles as a franchise and those teams had plenty in common.

Detroit won in the 1988-89 season, the next year in 1989-90 and then again in the 2003-4 campaign. All three teams were built around defense, toughness and team play, but those teams had plenty of star power as well.

You had one of the greatest point guards of all time in Isiah Thomas, as well as his backcourt mate Joe Dumars, who was one of the best two-way shooting guards of his era.

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The 2003-4 team featured Hall-of-Famer Ben Wallace, as well as All-Stars Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and All-Defense team member Tayshaun Prince.

While the Goin’ to Work squad was the last team to win a title without a true superstar, those Bad Boys’ teams were also overlooked when it came to individual awards, specifically the first team All-NBA.

Detroit Pistons: Team vs. individual success for the title teams

One interesting thing all three title teams had in common was that none of them featured a single player who made first team All-NBA.

In 1988-89, not a single Piston made any of the three All-NBA teams, which now seems like a travesty of justice in hindsight. While it’s hard to argue with the first team of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Hakeen Olajuwan (possibly the greatest All-NBA team ever), it’s very arguable that Isiah Thomas should have made it over John Stockton and Mark Price, the two other point guards who made All-NBA that season.

Stockton did lead the league in assists and steals that season, so fine, but Mark Price over Isiah? You wonder why that team had a chip on their collective shoulder.

In 1989-90 the NBA threw the Pistons a bone after winning the title and Joe Dumars made the 3rd team All-NBA. Still no sign of Isiah, who was beaten out by Magic, Stockton and Chris Mullin. Isiah got the last laugh by winning a second title in as many years and taking him the Finals MVP.

The 2003-4 team also had no members on the first team, though it’s hard to argue against Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal as the first team selections.

Ben Wallace did make the second team that season, but was the only player who made it from the Goin’ to Work squad, though it has produced an impressive coaching tree, a testament to that team’s intelligence.

I’m not sure there will ever be another NBA team that wins a title without at least one superstar, but the Detroit Pistons have shown that team success isn’t necessarily dictated by having a guy who is considered top-3 at his position.

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