Hall of Fame: Detroit Pistons Top 5 Members

By Jeff Everette

With the 2012 Hall of Fame induction ceremony being tonight, it seemed fitting to compile a list of Detroit Pistons currently enshrined in the NBAs most elite club.  The Piston boast 12 former players, coaches, or owners currently in the Hall, and today we will take a look at the top 5 Pistons HOF’rs.  This list is based on opinions, statistics, and overall impact.  Please feel free to state your opinion in the comments below,

Number 5-

Bob Lanier, Center, 1970-1984 NBA Seasons, Inducted 1992

Despite going down in the NCAA tournament due to a knee-ligament injury, the Detroit Pistons still felt Lanier was worthy of the number 1 overall pick of the 1970 NBA Draft.  Injury became a constant part of the 6’11 center’s career, but it did not stop him from becoming one of the league’s best centers in an era when NBA Legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed, and Kareem Abdul-Jabar roamed the court.  Lanier won Rookie of the Year and led Detroit to its first winning season in 13 years.

Lanier played as a part of the Detroit Pistons for more than 9 years, playing for the Milwaukee Bucks for his last 4.  He racked up 19,248 points during his career, and ended with a 20.1ppg/10.1rpg stat line.  His 22.7ppg career as a Piston is still the team record.

The only shadow on Lanier’s career was his inability to will his team to an NBA Finals.  Regardless of never getting a chance to win a Championship, Lanier was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, he will always be one of the great Pistons of the past.

Number 4-

George Yardley, Forward/Guard, 1953-1960 NBA Seasons, Inducted 1996

George “Bird” Yardley was 7th overall by the Fort Wayne Pistons, 3 years before the team made the move to Detroit.  During his 10 year career he was a 6 time All-Star, the 1958 Scoring Champion the same year he was elected to the all-NBA first team.

Scoring 9,063 points during his career, Yardley was a tough player in a rough league, despite being slight of frame.  He amassed an impressive 4,220 rebounds and was known as a scrappy defender who would lay it all on the line while he was on the floor.  During the Pistons first season in Detroit, Yardley led the league in scoring, breaking the NBA record and surpassing the 2,000 points mark for the first time in NBA history

Bad blood between Yardley and Pistons founder and owner Fred Zollner led to a trade in the ’58-’59 season, and he retired two seasons later.  Yardley played in 3 NBA Finals (2 with Pistons), but he was unable to win a single Championship, but he is still remembered as an important part of the Pistons successful transfer to Detroit.

Number 3-

Joe Dumars, Guard, 1985-1999 NBA Seasons, Inducted 2006

At a time when the Pistons line up had a lot of flash and sizzle, Dumars quietly went about his business, entrenching himself as one of the most important pieces of Detroit “Bad Boys” run of the late 80’s.  A career Piston, Dumars was selected with the 18th pick and lived up to the first round billing as he was named to the NBA All Rookie team of the 1985-86 season.  He still was able to stay off of the radar thanks to the number of larger-than-life personalities he played with.  Despite the level of talent surrounding him on the floor, Dumars proved his worth and earned the honor of being named MVP of the NBA Finals in 1988-’89.

A 6 time All-Star, Dumars scored 16,401 points and 4,612 assists during a Pistons record 1,018 games.  A 2 time Champion, Dumars not only earned the league’s first Sportsmanship Award, but so exemplified what the award represented, the league named it after him.

After his retirement in 1999, Joe D took a spot in the front office, and in a short time, he was named President of Basketball Operations.  As such, Dumars was responsible for putting together the Pistons powerhouse of the 2000’s, winning 6 division titles and 1 Championship between the ’02 and ’08 seasons.  His continued service to the Pistons and the City of Detroit make him an all time fan favorite, and #3 on this list.

Number 2-

Dave Bing, Guard, 1966-1978, NBA Seasons, Inducted in 1990

The second pick of the 1966 Rookie class, Bing was another Piston to win the Rookie of the Year award.  The 6’3 guard was a 7 time All-Star, elected to the all-NBA first team twice, and in just his 2nd year in the league, he led the NBA in scoring.

With 18,327 points and a .441 FG%, along with 5,397 career assists, Bing is one of the most efficient guards to where a Pistons uniform, skilled at the drive and dish, presenting teammate Bob Lanier with shot after open shot.  Another Piston who enters the Hall without a Championship, Bing flourished in a league dominated by players named Jerry West, and Oscar Robertson.

Bing nearly lost his eye in 1971, after an accidental poke by Los Angeles Lakers Happy Hairston, but despite doctors warning he rejoined his team and still managed to average 22.6 points in 45 games.  It is a testament to the type of player the NBA was home to, and makes it no surprise to see him listed as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

Number 1-

Isaiah Thomas, Guard, 1981-1994 NBA Seasons, Inducted in 2000

Topping the list is the 6’1 guard known to play much larger than his comparably short stature.  Isaiah was one of the most tenacious players in NBA history, eclipsed only by legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  Elected to the NBA All-Star game in 12 of his 13 seasons in Detroit, Isaiah helped lead a gritty group of performers to back-to-back Championship wins during the ’88-’90 seasons.

With 18,822 points, Thomas is the all time leading scorer for the Pistons, and his 9,061 assists is enough for not only Detroit’s top spot, but also qualifies as 7th most all time in the NBA.  At the time “Zeke” retired, he also held the team record for steals, and games played, although he would later hand the latter over to his teammate, Joe Dumars.

Named the NBA Finals MVP of the 1989-90 season, Thomas earned his place in NBA history as a fierce player who would risk any physical injury to win against some of the NBA’s very best.  There are so many numbers a person could use to support his position as the #1 Detroit Piston to be in the Hall of Fame, but numbers could never begin to tell the story of how Thomas played on the court .  The memory of #11 playing his heart out on the floor, fighting through injury, and willing his team to become NBA Champions will live on for as long as his number hangs from the rafters as the newest group of Pistons try to live up to his legend on the court below.

Jeff Everette is a featured columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA.  You can follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, or subscribe to Jeff Everette-RantSports.com on both Facebook and Google+ for all of his latest articles, opinions, and rants.

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