Fort Wayne Pistons

Fort Wayne Pistons

Pistons Timeline


The Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons

The franchise was founded as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, a National Basketball League (NBL) team, playing in the gym of North Side High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Owners Fred Zollner and his sister Janet's Zollner Corporation was a foundry, manufacturing pistons, primarily for car, truck and locomotive engines.

New Name Fort Wayne Pistons

In 1948, the team became the Fort Wayne Pistons, competing in the Basketball Association of America (BAA). In 1949, Fred Zollner brokered the formation of the National Basketball Association from the BAA and the NBL at his kitchen table.

Move to Detroit

Though the Pistons enjoyed a solid local following, their city's small size made it difficult for them to be profitable. In 1957, Zollner moved the team to Detroit, a much larger city located in Michigan that had not professional basketball in a decade. In 1947, they had lost the Detroit Gems of the NBL, which disbanded and the remnants became the Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers), and the Detroit Falcons of the BAA, which folded.

Due to Detroit's economy being extremely reliant on the manufacturing of cars, they decided to keep the Pistons name. The new Detroit Pistons played in Olympia Stadium, home of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings at the time for their first four seasons, then moved to Cobo Arena. The franchise was a consistent disappointment, struggling both on the court and at the box office.

Cobo Arena

Cobo Arena was originally built in 1960. It was the home court of the NBA's Detroit Pistons from 1961 - 1978.

Cobo Center, formerly Cobo Hall and Cobo Arena, is a convention center situated along Jefferson and Washington avenues in downtown Detroit. It was named for Albert E. Cobo, mayor of Detroit from 1950 to 1957. Designed by Gino Rossetti, the center opened in 1960.

Pontiac Silverdome

The Silverdome (formerly known as the Pontiac Silverdome) is a formerly domed stadium located in the city of Pontiac, Michigan. The stadium complex, which opened in 1975 and had its first closing in 2006, sits on 127 acres (51 ha). The Silverdome hosted the Detroit Pistons in 1978 till 1988.

The Detroit Pistons also set numerous NBA attendance records during their time at the Silverdome; Regular Season, 61,983 vs. Boston, January 29, 1988; Playoffs, 41,732, vs. L.A. Lakers, June 16, 1988.

Palace of Auburn Hills

The Palace of Auburn Hills (commonly referred to as The Palace) is a sports and entertainment venue in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Opening in 1988, it is the home of the Detroit Pistons, of the NBA.

From 1957 to 1978, the Pistons competed in Detroit's Olympia Stadium and Cobo Arena. In 1978, owner Bill Davidson elected not to share the new Joe Louis Arena with the Detroit Red Wings, and instead chose to relocate the team to the Pontiac Silverdome, a venue constructed for football, where they remained for the next decade. While the Silverdome could accommodate massive crowds, it offered substandard sight lines for basketball viewing. A group led by Davidson bought vacant land in Auburn Hills from Joseph Shewach and built The Palace there for the relatively low cost of $70 million, using entirely private funding. The Davidson family held a controlling interest in the arena until Tom Gores purchased majority share in 2011.

NBA Finals Winners - 3 NBA Finals Wins

NBA Finals - 2004
The 2004 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 2003 - 2004 National Basketball Association season. The Finals were between the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference and the Detroit Pistons of the Eastern Conference; the Lakers held home court advantage. The series was played under a best-of-seven format, so the first team to collect four game victories would win the series.

NBA Finals - 1990
The 1990 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1989 - 1990 NBA season. The series pitted the Detroit Pistons (the previous year's champions) against the Portland Trail Blazers. This was the first NBA Finals since 1979 not to involve either the Lakers or the Celtics. The Pistons became just the third franchise in NBA history to win back-to-back championships, joining the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

NBA Finals - 1989
The 1989 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1988 - 1989 NBA season. The series was a rematch of the previous year's championship round between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tom Gores Takes Control

On June 1, 2011, Tom Gores and Platinum Equity bought Palace Sports and Entertainment (PS&E), the parent company of the Pistons and their arena, The Palace of Auburn Hills, from Karen Davidson, the wife of the late Bill Davidson, becoming only the third owner in the franchise's 70-year history. According to Crain's Detroit Business, the final sale price was $325 million, far lower than expected. Still, it was a handsome return on Davidson's original investment; he'd bought the team from founding owner Fred Zollner in 1974 for $6 million.

Pistons Primary Logo History No Alternate Logo History No Wordmark Logo History


Team Information Team History

Fort Wayne - Detroit

Pistons - Originally the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, the teams name comes from team owner Frank Zollners piston manufacturing company.

The Palace of Auburn Hills
1988 - present
Pontiac Silverdome
1978 - 1988
Cobo Arena
1961 - 1978
Olympia Stadium
1957 - 1961

*Fort Wayne*
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum 
1952 - 1957
North Side High School Gym
1941 - 1952

Tom Gores
2011 - present
Karen Davidson
2009 - 2011
William Davidson
1974 - 2009
Fred Zollner
1941 - 1974

Established: 1941

League History:
National Basketball Association 
1949 - present
Basketball Association of America
1948 - 1949

National Basketball League 
1941 - 1948

Team History:
Detroit Pistons
1957 - present
Fort Wayne Pistons
1948 - 1957

Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
1941 - 1948

NBA Championships: 3
2004, 1990, 1989

Retired Numbers:
1 Chauncey Billups
2 Chuck Daly
3 Ben Wallace
4 Joe Dumars
10 Dennis Rodman
11 Isiah Thomas
15 Vinnie Johnson
16 Bob Lanier
21 Dave Bing
40 Bill Laimbeer
- William Davidson
- Jack McCloskey

  *Red is this team's history

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