Pistons All-Time Team Speeches

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Isiah Thomas addresses The Palace crowd after being honored as a member of the Pistons All-Time Team.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
The speeches given by the three players – representing the three generations of Pistons spread over their 50 seasons in Detroit that took them from Cobo Arena to the Pontiac Silverdome to The Palace of Auburn Hills – who addressed the crowd as part of the celebration naming the Pistons’ All-Time Team prior to Tuesday night’s game against the New York Knicks:

DAVE BING: I am representing the guys who don’t like to be called legends. They like to be called old-school guys. I’d first like to thank Fred Zollner, who had the foresight to move to Detroit from Fort Wayne. Without him, there would be no Detroit Pistons. I’d like to congratulate Mr. Davidson on being elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Gene Shue, Bailey Howell, Ray Scott – a lot of times, people forget about them because they didn’t play in this era or play on an NBA championship team. But if you know your history, you know that these are guys that can’t be forgotten. I’m happy and proud thata couple of my teammates are here to be recognized tonight, also. Our franchise started to turn around when we had the future of drafting the No. 1 player in college basketball, Bob Lanier. My old backcourt mate, Chris Ford. We’ve taken a lot of pride in watching one of the greatest teams that donned the floor for a long time and that was the Isiah Thomas Bad Boys. Now there’s a lot of conversation about which team is best – was it the Bad Boys or the team led by Chauncey Billups right now? I don’t know who would beat who. But I’d like to be a fan and watch them compete against each other. We’ve come a long way and with the franchise we have in place today, I’m sure there are great things that are going to happen in our future.

ISIAH THOMAS: I’d like to say this is our house. I’d like to thank Mr. D for being patient with us and letting us build this house. Because as Dave Bing said when I first came along, we didn’t have the tradition of the Celtics or the Lakers. I couldn’t walk in and get historical information from Jerry West or John Havlicek. I came and got information from Dave Bing and asked Dave, “What is it you want us to do.” And he said, “One day when you talk about the Celtics and the Lakers, we want to be mentioned in that conversation.” And I’m proud to stand here before you today with all of my teammates and our Pistons family and you as our fans, because it took a long time before we built our house in ’89 and won our first championship. And we called it The Palace because the fathers and sons and the mothers and daughters who came to our games, we wanted to treat you like kings and queens. And not only that, the most important thing is when Dave Bing said, “Which team will win – Chauncey’s team or our team?” I don’t know which team would win. However, I do know this: When I first came into the league and we talked about building our house and laying our foundation, the discussion they were having about the Celtics and the Lakers was which team was better – was it Larry Bird’s team or was it John Havlicek’s team? Was it the Magic Johnson-led Lakers team or was it the Jerry West team? And I’m proud to stand before you today and say that we as a Pistons franchise, now we can debate which team is better. And there’s one guy that didn’t make it here tonight and he wore No. 10. And that’s our teammate, Dennis Rodman. Worm, wherever you are, we love you and you’re a big part of this family. You’ve got to come home. Thank you.

CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: It’s unbelievable to go behind Dave Bing and Isiah Thomas. But I think I can say as a member of the current team, it’s an unbelievable honor to be mentioned and be able to sit on the same stage with the greats of the Pistons organization. I know I can speak for my teammates when I say that – that’s an unbelievable honor. I think all season we’ve been celebrating 50 successful years with the Pistons organization in Detroit and I think these guys and what they mean to this franchise made it possible for us to have this celebration, with the work they put in – Zeke and them, old school, they made it speak. This is a very, very special night for us. And as a member of the current team, I can tell you we are definitely not done yet trying to build this. We will continue to carry on and uphold the tradition of this franchise and we are going, in two weeks here, to start up a very, very successful, long playoff run. And hopefully, at the end of that playoff run, we’re going to put another banner up there. Thank you. … One more thing. Zeke, Joe, Vinnie, Liambeer, Salley – this isn’t for the old school, this is for the middle school: I don’t know what would have happened in the early ’90s, but in 2008, 2007, I’d take us, baby.”