Joining the BAA the Pistons are starting over again as they drop the Zollner from their nickname. However, Fred Zollner remained a virtual part of the development of the league as he helps provide transportation arrangements for the entire league. In their first year in the BAA the Pistons would struggle finishing in fifth place in the Western Division with a record of 22-38, missing the playoffs. Following the season five more NBL teams would join the league, which would be rechristened the NBA as the merger was completed.
Though the Pistons enjoyed a solid local following, Fort Wayne’s small size made it difficult for them to be profitable, especially as other early NBA teams based in smaller cities started folding or relocating to larger markets. After the 1956 – 1957 season, Zollner decided that Fort Wayne was too small to support an NBA team and announced the team would be playing elsewhere in the coming season. He ultimately settled on Detroit. Although it was the fifth largest city in the United States at the time, Detroit had not seen professional basketball in a decade. In 1947, they had lost the Detroit Gems of the NBL (whose remnants became the Minneapolis Lakers), and the Detroit Falcons of the BAA. Zollner decided to keep the Pistons name, believing it made sense given Detroit’s status as the center of the automobile industry.
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.
Fort Wayne - Detroit
1949 – Present / National Basketball Association
1948 – 1949 / Basketball Association of America
1941 – 1948 / National Basketball League
1957 – Present / Detroit Pistons
1948 – 1957 / Fort Wayne Pistons
1941 – 1948 / Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
Pistons - Originally the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, the teams name comes from team owner Frank Zollners piston manufacturing company. Owners Fred Zollner and his sister Janet’s Zollner Corporation was a foundry, manufacturing pistons, primarily for car, truck and locomotive engines.
NBA Championships 0
2004, 1990, 1989
2016 – Present / Little Caesars Arena
1988 – 2016 / The Palace of Auburn Hills
1978 – 1988 / Pontiac Silverdome
1961 – 1978 / Cobo Arena
1957 – 1961 / Olympia Stadium
1952 – 1957 / Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
1941 – 1952 / North Side High School Gym
2011 – Present / Tom Gores
2009 – 2011 / Karen Davidson
1974 – 2009 / William Davidson
1941 – 1974 / Fred Zollner
Who is the greatest Fort Wayne Pistons/Zollner Pistons?
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
32 Richard Hamilton
40 Bill Laimbeer
– William Davidson
– Jack McCloskey
1996 – Present / Hooper
Unknown – 1996 / Sir Slam A Lot
*Blue is this team’s history