After years of obscurity in the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Pistons are poised to take some big steps forward this season.
This year, they are also set to unveil a new set of statement edition uniforms that features a sleek new design inspired by a voicemail rant left by diehard Pistons fan Cochise Hardy in 2020.
The Detroit Pistons unveiled the team’s new Statement uniforms Wednesday after finding inspiration for the look from an unlikely source — a lengthy, passionate voicemail from a local fan whose words became the catalyst for the uniform change.
In November 2020, with the NBA season delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Detroit native Cochise Hardy, 38, was at home scrolling through Twitter when he decided that enough was enough. On his timeline, Hardy saw nearly every NBA organization except his favorite hometown team, the Detroit Pistons, reveal new uniforms. He was jealous.
“I’m like, ‘Those are fire. Those are fire. Those are fire.’,” Hardy told The Athletic. “I’m waiting for Detroit and they didn’t drop anything. I decided I was going to call them. I don’t remember if it was that night or that day, but I called and spilled my heart. It was time for an upgrade. This isn’t what’s up.”
Hardy was just a regular fan who was inspired to pressure his hometown team into making new jerseys. With no role or say in the organization, he probably wasn't expecting his request to be taken seriously.
But after leaving a lengthy voicemail pleading for an updated look, people in the organization were swayed by his words.
Hardy took to Google to find a phone number for the Detroit Pistons. He found one, but no one answered. His voicemail was over a minute long. He pleaded with the organization to change things up, be more vibrant, and look, well, cooler.
The voicemail was heard by someone in the Pistons’ ticket-sales department. It made its rounds around the office. Many people laughed at Hardy’s passionate rant — which featured Detroit lingo like “dog-ass jerseys” — including Tyrel Kirkham, the Pistons’ vice president of brand and marketing strategy. However, Kirkham heard the love tucked inside the humor, and as the organization was preparing to mock up uniforms for the following seasons, Kirkham wanted everyone on his team to keep Hardy’s voicemail in mind.
“When Tyrel called me and told me that I inspired this jersey, I was like, ‘What!?’ It was like Ashton Kutcher calling me. I thought I was getting Punk’d,” Hardy said. “I like to win and look good while I’m doing. That’s Detroit. That’s what we do. When we go anywhere else, they recognize us. We have a different swag. We look good.
“These are fire.”
Despite the Pistons' struggles over the years, they are a team rich with culture and pride. During the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, they were among the most competitive teams in the East, with guys like Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Chauncey Billups passing through their locker room.
Now, they are ushering in a new era led by Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey.