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With Detroit Pistons, It’s Often Hard to Tell Fact From Fiction

These Great Moments in Detroit Pistons’ History are brought to you by:

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And now, back to Great Moments in Detroit Pistons’ History.

Jan. 29, 1983--Kelly Tripucka scores 56 points in one night. At least once or twice during the game, he also is spotted guarding somebody. True story.

March 9, 1979--Kevin Porter gets 25 assists in one night. At times, the Piston statistician even double-checks to see if Kevin is on the floor before giving him another assist. True story.

Feb. 4, 1980--Bob Lanier is traded to Milwaukee. In a locker, an equipment manager finds one of Lanier’s shoes. Living inside it is a woman who has so many children, she doesn’t know what to do. True story.

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Aug. 21, 1986--Kelly Tripucka is traded to Utah for Adrian Dantley. Deal nearly collapses while Piston general manager bites tongue to keep from laughing. True story.

March 15, 1967--Reggie Harding goes into a bank. He is wearing a stocking cap. It is his neighborhood bank. Reggie is 7-feet tall. Says the teller: “Come on, Reggie, don’t do this.” Says Reggie: “Hey, it ain’t me, man.” True story.

Nov. 20, 1972--John (Crash) Mengelt crashes into Walter Matthau’s chair at the Forum in Inglewood, toppling it over, while going for a loose ball. Says a reporter to Mengelt: “Crash, for a moment there I thought you stepped on Walter Matthau’s face.” Says Mengelt: “I think somebody already did.” True story.

Sept. 6, 1979--Dick Vitale trades two No. 1 draft picks plus M.L. Carr to the Boston Celtics for Bob McAdoo. With this deal as incentive, the Pistons roll to a season record of 16-66. True story.

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August 29, 1962--The Pistons trade Gene Shue. Shue’s life is never the same. Twenty-five years later, he ends up coaching the Los Angeles Clippers, a broken shell of a man. True story.

Oct. 28, 1963--The Pistons trade Kevin Loughery, continuing a concerted effort to get rid of guys who think like coaches. Loughery goes on to coach every franchise in the NBA, some of them twice. True story.

Jan. 14, 1967--Rudy LaRusso is traded from Lakers to Pistons. LaRusso refuses to report. Pistons still expecting him, any day now. True story.

Jan. 29, 1968--Pistons acquire Happy Hairston from Cincinnati. Hairston immediately changes first name. True story.

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Oct. 22, 1977--Three-way deal brings Ralph Simpson to Detroit. Pistons ecstatic, until new player arrives in camp. Coach Herb Brown says: “I thought you said Sampson.” True story.

Dec. 13, 1984--Pistons hold Denver Nuggets to 184 points--and win! True story.

Feb. 14, 1987--For a game against Philadelphia, Pistons draw record crowd of 52,745 at Pontiac Silverdome. News is disturbing to officials of the Clippers, who at this point have drawn 52,744 for season. True story.

April 17, 1957--National Basketball Assn. Board of Governors approves move of franchise from Fort Wayne, Ind., to Detroit, Mich., and so does every living soul in Fort Wayne, Ind. True story.

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July 29, 1974--Fred Zollner sells Pistons to group of 12 headed by William Davidson. Pistons decide to keep name, although mascot wishes he could dress up as something else. True story.

Aug. 9, 1982--Japanese auto industry cuts into American car sales. Mazda executives attempt to buy basketball team and change name to Detroit Rotary Engines. True story.

June 15, 1979--Pistons give Milwaukee Bucks $50,000 for right to pick Gregory Kelser in college draft so they won’t have to get stuck with Sidney Moncrief. True story.

Jan. 29, 1987--Pistons give 1987 first-round and second-round draft picks to the Clippers for Kurt Nimphius. Gene Shue gets even at last. True story.

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June 3, 1988--Pistons eliminate Boston Celtics, win Eastern Conference championship and get to play the Lakers for NBA championship. True story. Honest. Cross my heart. Swear to God.


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