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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Kevin McHale Fulfilled a Promise, and the Detroit Pistons Paid the Price

Kevin McHale has been getting a lot of heat lately, and rightfully so. With the Pistons struggling to make the playoffs this season, they fired their coach of seven years after he promised his son that if they lost in Game 82 at home against Toronto (they did), he would go on vacation with him as soon as possible. They had just come off an embarrassing loss to Sacramento where there was some “tension” between players and coaches trying to get more out of them during crunch time; it’s no wonder then why management decided things were going too South for their liking and made a move today.

The “detroit pistons roster” is the team that Kevin McHale was head coach of. The Detroit Pistons had a promising season, but then it all went downhill when their star player, Blake Griffin, got injured.

The Boston Celtics were hoping for one final hurrah in May 1988. They’d made the NBA Finals the previous four years, but they were getting old. The Detroit Pistons were great contenders to take over as the Eastern Conference’s top dog, not just because Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish were getting on in years.

McHale made a pledge at the start of the season. He delivered on it during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals showdown between the Celtics and the Pistons, and it cost the Pistons.

The Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons battled it out in the NBA Playoffs.

During Game 2 of the second round of the 1983 NBA playoffs between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks at the Boston Garden on April 29, 1983, a referee steps in between Boston Celtics’ Kevin McHale, left, and Milwaukee’s Alton Lister. | Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Pistons aspired to be the Celtics in the mid-1980s. They completed the task by the decade’s conclusion.

The Celtics ousted the Pistons from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1985 and won the Eastern Conference Finals in seven games in 1987.

The matchups between the Celtics and the Pistons in 1987 were as rough as they come. In that seven-game series, there were brawls, ejections, and outright carnage. The Celtics and the Bad Boys from Detroit were just not friends.

Bill Laimbeer, the Celtics’ most reviled player, went downright nasty during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With his side down 2-0 in the series, the Pistons center hit Bird with a hard foul, prompting Bird to hurl the ball at Laimbeer. Both players were removed, and the Pistons cruised to a 122-104 victory.

With the series tied at two games each in Game 5, Parish lost his temper with Laimbeer while diving for a rebound and pummeled him to the ground with a few of blows. There was no foul. Bird amazingly pulled the Celtics out of a 108-107 tie when he intercepted an inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas and flipped it to a cutting Dennis Johnson, who scored the game-winning shot.

The Pistons won Game 6, but the Celtics won the series by winning Game 7 at home, 117-114.

In 1988, Kevin McHale delivered on a promise to the Boston Celtics.

In 1988, the Pistons were out for vengeance, and they got off to a strong start by winning Game 1 104-96 in Boston.

The Celtics were on the verge of losing Game 2 until McHale kept a commitment he made to his players before the season started.

With five seconds remaining in regulation, Boston was down 109-106 to the Pistons, who were poised to take a 2-0 series lead. McHale then performed the unfathomable by tying the game with a game-tying three-pointer. His shot sent the game into overtime, and the Celtics ultimately won 119-115 in double overtime.

McHale hadn’t made a three-pointer in the whole season. It was, after all, his first effort.

According to United Press International, McHale remarked after the game, “I told certain folks that I’d shoot a 3-pointer this year.” “However, I expected it to be in a meaningless game at the conclusion of the regular season.”

The game wasn’t developed with the huge guy in mind. McHale retrieved a ball that bounced off Bird’s fingertips as he stood at the top of the key. He spun around and tossed it up at the buzzer. On his NBA career, McHale has hit two three-pointers in 17 attempts.

“I didn’t even think about it,” McHale remarked. “Never thinking is the secret to my basketball success.”

After McHale’s basket, the Pistons feared they were cursed.

On this day in 1988 … #FreepFlashback

The #Pistons finally slayed the dragon that was the Boston Celtics, eliminating Larry Bird’s team in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at the Silverdome.

It was Detroit’s first trip to the NBA Finals. But we won’t worry about that. pic.twitter.com/ODcQ2FTlQS

— Freep Sports (@freepsports) June 3, 2020

For the Pistons, the defeat brought back a bitter memory. Some of the players pondered on Bird’s previous-year theft, which transformed the series’ momentum.

“They have to have a leprechaun,” remarked John Salley of Detroit. “McHale’s shot was absurd.” Something is going on here. Something is working against us, and I’m not sure what it is.”

“The leprechaun got ’em today,” Pistons coach Chuck Daly expressed his feelings.

The Pistons’ anguish was compounded when numerous players thought McHale’s foot was on the line when he attempted his shot.

Daly claimed, “Adrian Dantley and someone else said they saw his foot on the line.” “However, the regulations state that officials are not allowed to utilize television replays, despite the fact that I’m informed they prove his foot was on it.” They made the decision, and we must accept it.”

McHale was quick to answer.

“I’m out there with the ball in no man’s land.” “I’m not gazing down at my feet, debating whether or not to take a step back,” he said. “I just turned around and tossed it.” When it left my hand, I knew it was wonderful.”

After a heartbreaking setback, the Pistons bounced back to upset the Celtics in six games.

RELATED: Kevin McHale Recalls Robert Parish’s One ‘Eruption’ during a Boston Celtics Practice

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