Before the Detroit Pistons went through the Bad Boys era and won two consecutive NBA titles, the franchise was in disarray with no direction or hope for the future.
With the Pistons being arguably one of the worst teams in the league in the late 1970s, newly appointed GM Jack McCloskey attempted to make a blockbuster trade that would’ve changed the team and NBA forever. Michigan State had just won the national championship over Indiana State and a Detroit superstar was born in the form of Magic Johnson.
McCloskey and the Los Angeles Lakers knew that Magic was a game-changer. The promising young star from Detroit ultimately landed with the Lakers with the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, but McCloskey was hoping to convince Dr. Jerry Buss to make a trade.
In ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on the Bad Boys of Detroit Pistons basketball set to air on April 10, McCloskey admits offering everyone on the roster for Magic once he was given the job:
“When I got the job, I offered everyone on our team for Magic Johnson.”
Ironically enough, any deal involving Magic would’ve drastically changed the course of NBA history and the Lakers franchise. Both teams would ultimately meet in the 1989 NBA Finals with Isiah Thomas leading the Pistons over the Lakers in convincing fashion and basically ending the Showtime era in the process.
Before being swept by the Pistons, the Lakers had won five NBA titles with Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leading the way. The Pistons were considered one of the best teams in the league with Thomas becoming a legitimate superstar, but it wasn’t until Detroit beat the Boston Celtics and Lakers consecutively that their short era of dominance began.
The Pistons would go on to top Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls the following year in order to punch their ticket the NBA Finals once again. Detroit were able to come out on top against Clyde Drexler’s Portland Trail Blazers winning a second straight NBA title.
Although the Celtics won three titles during the Showtime era of Lakers, only the Pistons were able to win back-to-back championships outside of the Lakers. Not until Phil Jackson and company turned around the Bulls franchise to win three straight a few years later did a team win back-to-back championships once again.
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