During the Detroit Pistons game against the Washington Wizards on Monday night, former Pistons legend Dennis Rodman delivered the game ball to the team in a brief pre-game gesture.
Afterward, the half-time ceremony brought in former players from the championship teams, most notably; Isiah Thomas and Rick Mahorn, Ben Wallace, and Chauncey Billups, along with Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton.
The players gathered around three Larry O’Brien trophies at center court and received a standing ovation from thousands of fans. The current team fell to the Wizards 105-101, but the night was about celebrating the legends of the past and their accomplishments.
The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan has been home to the Detroit Pistons for the past 29 years. The team moved to the suburb area in 1989, when the Bad Boy Pistons won their first championship led by Thomas and Joe Dumars. Subsequently, the Bad Boys ended up winning back-to-back titles and sparked the beginning of a winning tradition in Detroit.
The next championship season would come in 2004 when the Pistons upset the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Led by Billups and Wallace, the team managed to close the series at the Palace, reaching the peak of the NBA and celebrating with fans that were hungry for a title in Detroit.
They would return to the Finals the next year and ultimately lose to the San Antonio Spurs in a hard fought seven-game series. The team would never return to the NBA Finals but reached the Eastern Conference Finals in six consecutive seasons, before trading away their captain and point guard Billups in 2008.
The Palace will also be remembered for the infamous ‘Malice at the Palace’ when a huge brawl broke out between the Indiana Pacers players and fans in the arena. The melee was a black eye for the league at the time.
However, swift punishment was dealt out to the players involved in the incident which set the precedent for a stricter NBA.
Pistons fans will remember the Palace of Auburn Hills as an arena that hosted three championship banners and a lifetime full of basketball memories.
The team will be moving to the Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit next season and will be sharing the facility with the Detroit Red Wings, one of the most successful hockey franchises in NHL history.