Early Pistons All-Stars
The Pistons had a team-record four players in the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, but the franchise has always been well represented at the midseason spectacle. Over a span of five decades, the Pistons have had 79 All-Star players and three head coaches earn the privilege to take part in the NBA’s showcase event.
Three Pistons coaches have been tabbed to coach the NBA Eastern Conference All-Stars – Chuck Daly (1990), Doug Collins (1997) and Flip Saunders (2006) – and all three led the East to victory. In fact, Saunders’ win last season made him the fourth NBA coach to win the all-star game for both conferences.
1958-1967: Western Conference All-Stars
The Detroit Pistons originally played in the Western Conference, and had three West All-Stars in the 1958 game: George Yardley, Gene Shue and Dick McGuire. Yardley was named a starter and had 19 points and nine rebounds. Shue came off the bench to score 18 points and McGuire had four points, seven rebounds and 10 assists.
Shue would make four more All-Star appearances from 1959-1963, three as a starter. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 13.3 points in five games.
In 1960, the Pistons had two All-Star starters for the first time with Shue and center Walter Dukes, who grabbed 15 rebounds. Two Pistons have not started the game together since. (Isiah Thomas was injured when voted to start alongside Joe Dumars in 1991.)
Bailey Howell was an All-Star reserve four straight years starting in 1961, when he turned in his best performance with 13 points, three rebounds, three assists. The Pistons had multiple All-Stars until 1965, when Terry Dischinger was the only attendee and had five points and five rebounds.
The next year Dave DeBusschere made the first of three All-Star appearances as a Piston. (He would make five more with the New York Knicks.) DeBusschere had four points in 1966, but the big Pistons contributor was Eddie Miles. A 6-foot-4 guard, Miles put up 17 points in the only All-Star Game of his nine-year career.
In the 1967 game, DeBusschere scored 22 points, then a team record, on 11-of-17 shooting as the West won, 135-120.
The 1968 contest was a bit different. It was the Pistons’ first All-Star Game in the Eastern Division (they would move back to the West from 1971 to 1978), and featured their first starter since Gene Shue, a second-year guard named Dave Bing.
1968-1979: Bing-Lanier era
Bing had nine points and four assists in the 1968 All-Star Game. Bing received six All-Star nods between 1968 and 1975, and twice was named a starter. Bing and another Hall of Famer, center Bob Lanier, became All-Star fixtures for Detroit from 1973 to 1975.
In 1974, Lanier became the first Piston to win the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award when he had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the West’s 134-123 win.
After Bing left the Pistons (he was the All-Star Game MVP with Washington in 1976), Lanier made three more solo appearances from 1977 to 1979. The decade closed with Lanier’s seventh and final appearance, which still ranks second on the Pistons’ all-time list.
The Pistons would endure their only back-to-back seasons without an All-Star in 1980 and 1981.
Fortunately, Isiah Thomas proved to be worth the wait.
Read about Isiah’s All-Star exploits, Joe Dumars, Grant Hill and the current Piston All-Stars on pistons.com tomorrow.