A stocking full of holiday stories on Detroit Pistons

The Palace of Auburn Hills, implode on July 11, 2020.Kpm 59
The Palace of Auburn Hills, implode on July 11, 2020.Kpm 59 /
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NBA 75th anniversary
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Detroit Pistons first Christmas game

As most fans known, the Pistons started out in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they were first called the Zollner Pistons. They moved to Detroit in 1957 and scheduled a Christmas Day game with the Lakers (then in Minneapolis, and years before, based in Detroit).

Here is a snippet from my own story on it:

"The new NBA team in town, called the Detroit Pistons, had a game against the Lakers on December 25, 1957. It was the first chance for sports fans in the Detroit area to go to an NBA game on Christmas Day. It was a tradition that would last 15 years. Luckily for them, the Red Wings, the main tenant of Olympia Stadium, did not have anything going on, so the Pistons scheduled a game with the Lakers (then based in Minneapolis). It was a cloudy, windy day in Detroit  with temperatures in the low 40s. Although there is no known record of the official attendance, the Pistons averaged 4,800 fans a game that season. The spectators who came on Christmas saw an entertaining game. The Lakers held a 16-point lead entering the fourth quarter but Detroit staged a massive comeback that fell just short (1957 Pistons much like 2022 Pistons) and were edged, 106-104. George Yardley, en route to the first 2,000 point season in NBA history, led Detroit with 29 points. It was the third loss in four games for new coach Red Rocha. He had replaced Charley Eckman after Detroit started out with a 9-15 record. Ironically, three future NBA coaches, Gene Shue, Harry ‘the Horse’ Gallatin and Dick McGuire were among the Pistons players that day, giving ‘playing like a coach on the floor’ a new meaning. McGuire would become, at age 34, the head coach of the Pistons in 1959 and last four seasons. His younger brother, Al McGuire, would win an NCAA title at Marquette"

The interesting part was that in 1957, there were only two other games played on Christmas in the NBA, so it was not a big deal yet.

Related Story. How a pro team in Detroit turned into the Los Angeles Lakers. light

If you think the Pistons players might complain about being one of the few teams having to play on Christmas Day, consider the previous year. I n1956, they played the Lakers as well that time, but on a neutral court in Rochester, New York. Imagine having to be away from your family, playing in front of nobody, in Western New York.

The game must have been a success, as the Pistons played for 15 more Christmas Days after it – until the NBA stuck its nose in these things.