The 1990 Detroit Pistons: The Most Underappreciated NBA Team of All Time

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

Eamonn Whelan, Cub News Writer

As the defending NBA champions, the Pistons were headed into the 1989-90 season looking to repeat for their second consecutive title. They had lost their toughest defender Rick Mahorn in the offseason, but still had the assets to defend their title. Detroit went on a 13-game win streak at one point in the first half of the regular season, making a strong impression on the league early. 

When the all-star break came around, the three best players on the Pistons: Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Dennis Rodman, were all named as all-stars. Detroit then finished the season as 1st in the east with a record of 59-23. Dennis Rodman was announced Defensive Player of the Year while Joe Dumars made the All-NBA Third Team. Both players were also named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team that season. They came into the playoffs with confidence that they could repeat as NBA champions under 3 all-stars and a great regular season. In the first round of the playoffs, they easily swept Reggie Miller and the Pacers. In the next round, they would face one of the league’s top centers at the time, Patrick Ewing. Detroit played a hard-fought series, eventually winning 4-1 and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

However, they would have to match up with the best player in the league Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The previous season, the Pistons formed the unwritten rules known as “The Jordan Rules” in which they would deny Michael Jordan whenever he would touch the ball and would knock him over if he went up for a dunk or layup. The Pistons would keep these rules intact throughout the series and win in 7 games, advancing to their third consecutive NBA Finals. They would have to face the Portland Trail Blazers who were led by Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter. 

Detroit split the first two games of the series and would then travel to Portland where they would win both games and ultimately win the series in 5 games. Isiah Thomas was named Finals MVP after averaging 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists in the series. The Pistons won a second consecutive title and became just the third team in NBA history at the time to repeat as champions, joining the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, which solidified their status of being great NBA franchises. 

The 1990 Pistons have gone down in History as one of the toughest, if not the toughest team in NBA history. When you add up this team’s toughness, accolades, and dominant playoff performance which ended with a consecutive championship, it’s safe to say that the 1990 Detroit Pistons are the most underappreciated NBA team of all time.