Detroit Pistons

The Palace of Auburn Hills demolished, site of many Bulls-Pistons battles

The Palace of Auburn Hills demolished, site of many Bulls-Pistons battles

It's the building in which the Bulls' dynasty took off.

It's also the building in which plenty of Bulls' heartbreak occurred.

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Yes, the Palace of Auburn Hills, located in Auburn Hills, Mich., met its demise Saturday morning. Workers imploded the grand building, which, as one of the first multipurpose arenas, served as an instructional blueprint for the Bulls and Blackhawks when they constructed the United Center. 

 

The Pistons played in the arena from 1988 to 2017, and won three championships while calling it home. Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has said many times over the years that then-Pistons owner Bill Davidson, who privately financed the arena, advised him and Bill Wirtz on its good and bad aspects before Reinsdorf and Wirtz teamed up to open the United Center in 1994.

Most everyone who went there simply called it “The Palace.” It's where the Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas, refused to shake the Bulls' hands as they swept them out of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals en route to the first of their six titles. It's also where Scottie Pippen suffered a migraine headache in a depressing Game 7 loss in the 1990 Eastern Conference finals.

RELATED: An Aggregated Oral History of Michael Jordan-Isiah Thomas revived beef in 2020

"They were always bullying people, and I remember at shootaround that morning we swept them, they were yelling at us to get off the floor when we still had 30 minutes left," former Bulls center and current TV analyst Stacey King told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson when Johnson worked for the Chicago Tribune. "We were like, 'You're down 3-0! Scottie walked over with a fake broom and acted like he was sweeping the floor and said: 'You all are down. Get ready for the summer.' They were a prideful bunch. And I knew that hurt them."

King said these words before the Bulls' final game in The Palace on March 6, 2017. He also acknowledged when the Pistons Game 7 victory in 1990 — and what Michael Jordan did afterward.

"Michael said, 'We won't lose to them again in a playoff series.' And we didn't," King said. "But they were unbeatable here for a while. The fans, the energy in here with so much at stake between us, it was one of the most fun places to play. For a while, they were the bully and we were the kid they took the lunch money from."

The Pistons moved to the sparkling Little Caesars Arena, located in downtown Detroit, for the 2017-18 season.

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NBA Jam designer admits programming Bulls to miss late-game shots vs. Pistons

NBA Jam designer admits programming Bulls to miss late-game shots vs. Pistons

Stop the presses. We’ve got a scandal. 

In an interview with Ars Technica, NBA Jam lead designer and programmer Mark Turmell (a Michigan native and self-professed Detroit Pistons fan!) admitted to having programmed the game to make the Bulls automatically miss last-second shots when playing the Pistons.

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Here’s the clip of that section of the interview:

 

“Making this game in Chicago during the height of the Michael Jordan era, there was a big rivalry between the Pistons and the Bulls, but the one way I could get back at the Bulls once they got over the hump was to affect their skills against the Pistons in NBA Jam,” Turmell said in the interview. “And so I put in special code that if the Bulls were taking last-second shots against the Pistons, they would miss those shots.

“And so, if you’re ever playing the game, make sure you pick the Pistons over the Bulls.”

Not in your wildest dreams. But in all seriousness, this is an admirable level of pettiness that you simply have to respect. 

Here’s hoping, after ousting his befuddled Bulls-fan-friends, Turmell at least had the decency to shake hands afterwards. And vice versa.

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What to watch: Derrick Rose leads Bulls to massive comeback early in MVP year

What to watch: Derrick Rose leads Bulls to massive comeback early in MVP year

Derrick Rose’s 2010-11 MVP campaign began with a whimper — an 11-point road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in which Rose scored 28 but shot just 12-for-31 from the field.

The bang came in game number two.

In that contest, the Bulls’ home opener, the Bulls overcame a massive second-half deficit to topple the Pistons 101-91 and get their eventual 62-win regular season on track. Rose posted a then-career-high 39 points, slung seven assists and got to the charity stripe 13 times. No other Bull scored more than 15 (Joakim Noah). 

That game airs tonight at 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago as part of Derrick Rose Week. Here’s what to watch for:

Epic comeback

The enormity of the Bulls’ comeback in this one can’t be overstated. They trailed by 19 at the half and 15 entering the fourth quarter. But in that final period, they flipped an 82-67 deficit into a 101-91 victory, outsourcing the Pistons by a whopping margin of 34-9 in the frame (and 57-28 in the second half). 

Ridiculous. And better yet, it happened at the United Center. As Rose and Noah combined to outscore the Pistons’ entire team in the fourth (12-9), the UC rumbled, shook and bounced. That’ll be fun to see again.

In fact, with 22 points in the second half, Rose nearly matches the Pistons’ point total combined from Quarter 3 and 4. From the beginning, the 22-year-old wunderkin’s standout third year felt destined.

 

Joakim freaking Noah

As alluded to, this wasn’t the finest night for the Bulls’ supporting cast. Rose and Noah combined for 54 points on 19-for-39 (48.7%) from the field. The rest of the team had 47 on 18-for-47 (38.3%).

But, man, has Noah’s perfect sidekick status been pronounced rewatching these old games so far. Against the Pistons he stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, 17 rebounds (eight offensive) and three blocks. In Rose Week games thus far, he’s averaging 15 points, 14 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, and shooting 48.5% from the floor.

Expect some hot-mic-screaming goodness from Jo in this one. And his trademark brand of heart, hustle and muscle. 

Blasts from the past

  • If you’re someone (like me) who is enamored with NBA legends’ random late-career stops, Tracy McGrady suits up for the Pistons in this one. He scored all of two points in 17 minutes of run off the bench.

  • Ben Gordon returns home, but adorned in the visitor’s thread. Though Gordon’s post-Bulls career became quickly fraught by injury and underperformance, he poured in 21 points off the pine and got to the free throw line 10 times (making all 10). The Pistons’ leading scorer and second in the game to Rose.

  • Keith Bogans starts the game at shooting guard for the Bulls and scores two points on 1-for-5 shooting. It’s OK to still be mad.

RELATED: 6 most painstaking ‘What Ifs’ from Derrick Rose’s Bulls tenure, NBA career

NBC Sports Chicago will honor the Bulls great with “Derrick Rose Week presented by Saint Xavier University” starting up Monday, June 8 at 7:00 PM CT with the first of five-straight nights of “Classic” game performances. See full schedule here.

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