NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith explained how the NBA prevented the Detroit Pistons from going down in history as an even bigger team. Back in the 80s, the 'Bad Boys' adopted a style of play that earned them a lot of criticism and bad blood around the league.
This Sunday, the 3rd and 4th episode of 'The Last Dance' will air and they will be focused on the Chicago Bulls rivalry with the aforementioned Pistons. In case you don't know, Jordan couldn't find real success in the league until he got past the Pistons at the beginning of the 90s, so you can imagine how big the animosity was between the two squads.
Smith recalled this rivalry and explained that the NBA didn't see the Pistons as the best product they wanted to show to the world, contrary to Michael Jordan and his Bulls with their style of play. On Friday's edition of ESPN's 'First Take', Smith said:
"I don't believe it was the Bulls who robbed the Pistons of a greater legacy, I think it was the NBA who did that," Smith said. "The reason I think it was the NBA is because they were so turned off by the mystic of the Pistons and they win-at-all-coast ways. (...) Those tactics, hard knocks, defense, bully you, that was relatively unattractive product in the eyes of the NBA who wanted to go global. The '92 Dream Team, the Barcelona Olympics, ultimately assisting tremendously and globalizing its brand and make it attractive more to Europe, just as well as it was in the United States of America. Also, the brand of basketball that was being played was more appealing to the NBA because what it would do for the global iconic brand that it ultimately became and the Pistons ultimately away of that. As a result, you downplay the Pistons and the greatness that they put going to five straight Conference Finals, three straight NBA Finals; these brothers were real hardcore, but nobody talks about that nearly as much as we bypass Jordan and Bird to the Jordan era. We downplay the Pistons because we didn't like what we were seeing from them if we were the NBA and I think the NBA is the largest responsible for the level of cache in terms of notoriety that the Pistons were lacking and have been lacking all of these years. That wasn't MJ, that was the NBA."
Stephen A. made it very clear and it's odd to see that the Pistons, who engaged in heated rivalries with the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, don't have as much recognition as other great squads in the history of the league.