In the 1980’s, the league was dominated by two NBA teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. In the 80’s, the two franchises won 8 of the ten available championships. There were just two outliers, the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983 and the Detroit Pistons in 1989. The 76ers were led by Moses Malone and Julius Erving, among others. The Pistons however, they were a very different team.
They were nicknamed the “Bad Boys” due to their aggressive play-style and dirty plays night in and night out. Isiah Thomas was the lead guard and was probably the dirtiest guard you’ve seen. The squad wasn’t just Isiah though. With the likes of Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, and Rick Mahorn the team was as dirty as one could be. With most of their altercations, Thomas was at the center of them.
All of the Bad Boy Pistons shared a few things: mental toughness, grit, an aggressive play-style, and physicality. Although the NBA is considered “softer” than what it used to be, there are still some names with a “bad boy” style. Today, we’ll be looking at five of those players. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Booker, Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins
The Bad Boy Pistons 2017
It’s the grind-father himself. Tony Allen has been the toughest perimeter defender for the past decade. Allen also isn’t scared to get into confrontations, not even with his own teammates. There have been multiple cases of Allen getting into fights and/or confrontations with his teammates. A notable time is when he punched up OJ Mayo over a gambling debt in a card game the two were playing. Mayo isn’t a sweet guy, he broke a teammate’s jaw in college. Allen managed to get the best of Mayo, though, and according to multiple sources on the team plane Mayo left the altercation with a “noticeably swollen face”. Allen also got into an altercation with Nick Calathes in 2015 where he was suspended the following game due to “an unspecified violation of team policy”. Allen also kicked star Chris Paul in the face once back in 2013.
Allen is undoubtedly one of the most aggressive players in the league. He’s a tough kid from Chicago and it definitely shows in his play. I feel he’d be a perfect fit with the Bad Boy Pistons.
You could make an argument that Steven Adams is the toughest player in the NBA. The New Zealand Kiwi got his 100 million dollar contract due to the toughness and energy he brings night in and night out. Adams is the youngest of 18 children and has a reputation of a fierce tough guy who is a force to be reckoned with. Adams is currently the Thunder’s starting center and is a very good player. His aggressive defense, physical rebounding, and overall “mean” style is exactly what would make him a perfect fit for the Bad Boy Pistons. Adams is a great help to the Thunder and would play the same role for the Pistons.
He isn’t afraid of confrontation and will help these Pistons in every way possible. Adams was even ranked as the second dirtiest player in the NBA by his peers just one year ago. A coach said of Adams,
“The stuff that he does is not cool. He throws elbows, extra hitting dudes away from the ball, hitting them with the chicken wing [elbow] and trying to get a rise out of them. That kind of stuff.”
Adams would clearly be a great fit as I’ve said multiple times above.
Mr. Junkyard Dog would be a fantastic fit with the Bad Boy Pistons. A teammate of Tony Allen, Randolph also shares the same sort of physical aggression. Randolph is one-half of one of the best rebounding frontcourt of the past 7 years. Zach’s extreme toughness is contagious among his teammates. His macho style has consistently given the Memphis Grizzlies the edge they need. Randolph also is a good guy off the court and gives back to his community. His community loves him for that and his toughness.
Randolph is also one of the NBA’s better, more physical rebounders of the past decade and one of the best enforcers. Randolph is even considered one of the toughest players to grace the hardwood. He was first known as part of the “Jail Blazers” of the early 2000’s and has become a fantastic player, even if he’s no longer a starter. He’d be a great fit in Detroit during the Bad Boys era.
Considered the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors, Draymond Green would fit very well with the Pistons. Draymond constantly attempts to get under the skin of the opposition, even the coaches and referees.
He’s shown to be a dirty player time and time again, most notably in the Western Conference Finals where he kicked Steven Adams in his family jewels. Draymond is also one of the best defenders in the NBA and is able to guard in the post and perimeter due to his undersized stature (6’7 power forward).
Last but definitely not least, we have Patrick Beverley. Beverley is currently a starting guard for the 33-13 Houston Rockets starting alongside MVP frontrunner James Harden. Beverley also has a very dirty history, tracing back to the time he blatantly injured Russell Westbrook in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs.
His most recent case of dirty play came in the first round of the 2016 playoffs where he got into a confrontation with Stephen Curry. Along with Tony Allen, Beverley is one of the toughest perimeter defenders in the NBA. He’s quite possibly the biggest pest in the association.
Credit: Rory Becker