1988–89 Detroit Pistons season

A ticket for a November 1988 game between the Pistons and the Charlotte Hornets.

The 1988-89 NBA season was the Detroit Pistons' 41st season in the NBA and 32nd season in the Detroit metropolitan area. The Pistons moved from the Pontiac Silverdome to the brand-new Palace of Auburn Hills before the start of the season, which culminated in the Pistons' first NBA championship, sweeping the Lakers in four games in the NBA Finals a rematch from last year's NBA Finals and avenging their NBA Finals loss. Following the season, Rick Mahorn was picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1989 expansion draft and was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers soon after.

The Pistons and Lakers would face each other again 15 years later in the NBA Finals in 2004, where the Pistons won in five games en route to their third NBA championship despite being underdogs to the heavily-favored Lakers.

Draft picks


Roster listing
1988–89 Detroit Pistons roster
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
SF23United StatesAguirre, Mark6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)232 lb (105 kg)DePaul
SF34United StatesDembo, Fennis6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)215 lb (98 kg)Wyoming
G4United StatesDumars, Joe6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)190 lb (86 kg)McNeese State
F/C53United StatesEdwards, James7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)225 lb (102 kg)Washington
SG15United StatesJohnson, Vinnie6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)200 lb (91 kg)Baylor University
C40United StatesLaimbeer, Bill6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)245 lb (111 kg)University of Notre Dame
SG25United StatesLong, John6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)195 lb (88 kg)University of Detroit Mercy
F/C44United StatesMahorn, Rick6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)240 lb (109 kg)Hampton
F10United StatesRodman, Dennis6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)220 lb (100 kg)SE Oklahoma State
F/C22United StatesSalley, John6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)230 lb (104 kg)Georgia Tech
PG11United StatesThomas, Isiah (C)6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)180 lb (82 kg)Indiana
PG24United StatesWilliams, Micheal6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)175 lb (79 kg)Baylor
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Regular season

On February 15, 1989, the Pistons traded Adrian Dantley to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Aguirre. Dantley was unhappy relegating the leadership role on the Pistons to Isiah Thomas, while Aguirre had clashed with his coaches and teammates in Dallas. Aguirre was more amenable to deferring to Thomas, and accepted his role in Chuck Daly's system. His ability to shoot the three, post up, run the floor, and pass was instrumental in the growth of the team.

Season standings

Record vs. opponents

Game log

Regular season

1988–89 game log
Total: 63–19 (Home: 37–4; Road: 26–15)
1988–89 schedule


1989 playoff game log
1989 schedule


After finishing with the best record in the NBA, the Pistons swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference finals, they faced the Chicago Bulls, whom they had defeated in the conference semifinals a year earlier. Although the Bulls were able to win two of the first three games, the Pistons' use of their "Jordan Rules" defense wore out Michael Jordan, setting up Detroit's second consecutive NBA Finals appearance against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Eastern Conference First Round

(1) Detroit Pistons vs. (8) Boston Celtics: Pistons win series 3-0

Last Playoff Meeting: 1988 Eastern Conference Finals (Detroit won 4-2)

Eastern Conference Semifinals

(1) Detroit Pistons vs. (5) Milwaukee Bucks: Pistons win series 4-0

Last Playoff Meeting: 1976 Western Conference First Round (Detroit won 2-1)

Eastern Conference Finals

(1) Detroit Pistons vs. (6) Chicago Bulls: Pistons win series 4-2

Last Playoff Meeting: 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Detroit won 4-2)

Player stats

  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG% Field-goal percentage 3P% 3-point field-goal percentage FT% Free-throw percentage
 RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
 BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per game

Regular season


NBA Finals

The Pistons' overpowering play allowed them to sweep the Lakers, who struggled to fill the defensive void left by Byron Scott's injury prior to the start of the Finals. Joe Dumars was named Finals MVP. In addition, Magic Johnson pulled a hamstring early in the second game, and unable to play the rest of the series. The Lakers' depleted backcourt allowed the Pistons to easily win the 1988-89 NBA Championship.

Pistons win series 4-0

Award winners

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article 1988–89 Detroit Pistons season, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.