Rivalries Over Time: Bulls vs. Pistons

In the world of sports, a clash of enemies often prompts the greatest play. In that spirit, basketball fans everywhere have good reason to be grateful for the PistonsBulls rivalry. After all, which opponent animated Michael Jordan more in the ’80s and early ’90s, when he served up some of the most impressive seasons the league had ever seen? Or how about the play of Isiah Thomas, whom many consider the most compelling matchup of Jordan’s career? And if you appreciate chippy play, the rivalry delivered all the elbows a fan could ask for. There’s a reason the Pistons were known as the NBA’s “Bad Boys” in that era, and they were especially brutal when the Bulls came to town.

But for all the bad blood and big-game performances, which team has actually come out on top more often? We tracked the all-time head-to-head records of these franchises to see which squad dominated in each decade, and which team holds the lead today. Ready to see which side of this fabled rivalry owns bragging rights currently? Then keep reading.

50 Years of Fierce Play

From their first meeting in 1966 up until the early ’80s, these teams’ records were remarkably even: Neither team ever got more than a handful of games ahead of the other. Then, as the ’80s advanced, the Pistons opened up a sizeable gap on their foe, much to the frustration of a young Michael Jordan. From 1988 through 1990, Detroit defeated the Bulls in three consecutive playoff matchups. From there, however, the Pistons’ win count flattened, thanks to the efforts of His Airness. The 1991-93 years brought the first of Jordan’s three-peats, and the Bulls eclipsed the Pistons in head-to-head wins in 1996 when M.J. was en route to his second.

Zeke put up 30, 10 assists and 5 steals in '86 to take home the hardware. #TBT

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The beginning of the 21st century, however, ushered in a period of Detroit dominance. The Pistons’ recovered the head-to-head lead in 2000 and expanded it during a decade in which they won a title and generally became playoff fixtures. But the tide began to turn in 2008, the first of seven consecutive playoff seasons for Chicago. As of our latest count, the teams are virtually tied and have stayed neck and neck since 2013.

Franchise Greats Against Their Foes

It would be insulting to assume the anti-Piston scoring title would go to any Bull other than Air Jordan. Though the Pistons infamously employed the “Jordan Rules” to smother him with physical play, Jordan ultimately dinged Detroit for more than 2,400 points over his seasons in Chicago. He had help, however: His sidekick, Scottie Pippen poured in 1,097 against the Pistons as well. Other top Bulls scorers against the Pistons hail from earlier eras, including Bob Love and Jerry Sloan, who starred in the ’60s and ’70s.

On the Pistons side, Isiah Thomas led all players in drawing blood against the Bulls, notching 1,846 against them. He shares the list with some of his “Bad Boys” teammates, including Joe Dumar and Bill Laimbeer who scored more than 1,100 points apiece against Chicago. Second place went to Dave Bing, a Detroit legend who later became the city’s mayor. Hall of Famer Bob Lanier rounded out the list, thanks to notable seasons with the Pistons in the ’70s.

Putting Bad Blood to Bed?

Beyond all the nostalgia our findings inspire, does the Pistons-Bulls rivalry have any shot at revival? While neither team can currently be counted among the NBA’s most feared franchises, don’t count out another chapter of tension between these teams in the future. After all, it only took the Bull’s 1984 draft pick of Jordan to initiate the greatest period in the rivalry’s history. Why couldn’t Detroit and Chicago be butting heads again soon for Eastern Conference supremacy?

But don’t wait until that day arrives to stock up on the latest and greatest team gear. Fanatics offers the widest range of NBA apparel, so you can be the freshest fan out there.


To compile the data presented in this project, we utilized information from basketball-reference.com, a database of historical statistics on the performance of professional basketball teams and players. We included information only from games in which the Pistons and Bulls competed against each other, dating from October 1966 through November 2017. No statistical testing was performed, so the claims listed above are based on raw win totals alone.



Dwyane Wade: Heat, Bulls, Cavs


The Story

Former Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls player Dwyane Wade has decided to reunite with his friend LeBron James as the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now that the Cavs have traded Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics, Wade is looking to join on for a chance to grab a potential fourth championship title.

Wade’s Career

Wade played for the Miami Heat during his first 13 NBA seasons and is a self-proclaimed “Heat lifer.” In the process, he’s gathered many awards while playing alongside teammates LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Jason Williams, and Gary Payton, to name a few.


  • 12x All-Star
  • 3x NBA Champ
  • 8x All-NBA
  • 3x All-Defensive
  • 2005-06 Finals MVP

During his time in Miami, Wade averaged 23.7 points per game with a 0.562 true shooting percentage and won two championships alongside LeBron James, a fellow 2003 draft class member.

In the 2016 off-season, Wade decided to sign with his hometown Chicago Bulls with teammates Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler. The Bulls finished the regular season eighth in the Eastern Conference, just beating out the Miami Heat for the last playoff spot. Despite the Heat setting an NBA record for the best second half of a season to tie Chicago at 41-41, a 2-1 head-to-head record gave the Bulls the tiebreaker. Still, the Bulls eventually lost the opening series against the Boston Celtics.

The Move

Wade will likely start for the Cavs because of the Kyrie-Isaiah swap and Thomas’ hip injury sustained during the postseason. Here’s a quick projection of what the new starting five would look like based on a linear regression of the past five seasons of player Win Shares – a measure of a player’s contribution (both offensive and defensive) to the team’s wins. Can this new five blow past the projections?


The Future

Ultimately, time will determine whether this is a good move for the future Hall of Famer. Although the Cavs have reached the NBA Finals in each of the past three seasons, winning one in the process, they’ll continue to face difficult opponents in the West – whether it be the Golden State Warriors with Curry and Durant, the Houston Rockets with Harden and Paul, or the newly formed Oklahoma City Thunder with Westbrook, George, and Anthony.

Whether you’re looking to represent the newest member of the Cavaliers or are cheering on some of the other movers and shakers of this off-season, make sure to checkout the latest NBA gear here at Fanatics.


NBA Jersey Sales: First Half of 2016-17


With another All-Star Weekend in the books and the passing of a trade deadline, the NBA is now in full swing. At this point in the season, teams are making strides toward securing a spot in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s no secret that die-hard basketball fanatics bleed the colors of their hometown team and dedicate their support to the skilled ballers who fill their competitive rosters. Fans all around the world root for their favorite players by purchasing the latest jerseys on the market. Whether watching from the comfort of their living room or attending a live game, one thing is for certain: Fans buy a lot of jerseys.

We’ve compiled sales data, from the first toss-up of the 2016-17 season through the All-Star break, to see which players and teams are topping the charts in jersey sales throughout the entire league.

Continue reading to see how the numbers stack up.

Selling Jerseys and Banking Shots


Nowadays, it’s expected for top-tier players to stand above the rest when it comes to jersey sales. Players work to create a loyal fan base, not only by proving themselves on the court but also by being an all-star in the real world.

The results are in, and Stephen Curry – point guard for the Golden State Warriors prevails as the top NBA player to have the most jerseys sold since the start of the season. It’s no surprise that the Baby-Faced Assassin dominates the sales charts, as he was the unanimous recipient of back-to-back MVP awards over the past two seasons. Although the sharpshooter couldn’t guide his team to a second straight championship title, Steph maintains the hype around his name as one of the most popular players on social media.

@stephencurry30 beats the buzzer for the @warriors 50th points of the 3rd quarter!

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Kevin Durant and LeBron James are fighting a fierce battle over second and third place, respectively. King James may inch out the Golden State forward over the remainder of the season, however, as KD is now out indefinitely with an injury.

@kingjames puts up 18 points, 15 assists & 13 rebounds to lead the @cavs at home!

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It’s a Team Effort


With Curry and KD leading the pack, the Golden State Warriors have sold the most jerseys after turning over a new leaf with the start of the season. Although they suffered an unexpected defeat during the 2015-16 NBA Finals, the Warriors and their fan base have kept their heads up high – and their wardrobe up to date. Trailing behind the Cali-based squad are none other than the champs themselves, the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the Cavs might have proven themselves on the courts, their jersey sales tell a different story.

The Windy City rounds out the top three with jersey sales spiking at the beginning of the season, as the Chicago Bulls acquired former Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade.

Balling While They’re Young


Let’s face it, no matter what team you’re rooting for, nothing is more adorable than a child cheering on their favorite team while sporting a kid-sized jersey.

Steph Curry, once again, dominates sales in this merchandise category. The Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr raves about the MVP and claims that children “gravitate toward Steph.” Kids across the globe can be found rocking No. 30 on their back with the goal of receiving the Golden State guard’s autograph one day.

Sales and Shots Going Through the Roof!

The chances of another player or team topping Curry and Warriors jersey sales are slim, but with the second half of the season underway, anything is possible. Root your team into the playoffs by sporting your hometown team’s jersey, like the loyal fan you are. Head over to Fanatics.com to choose from the latest player jerseys and fan gear the NBA has to offer!


NBA Trade Deadline Analysis


The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, along with the need to speculate the meaning of cryptic player tweets – looking at you Isaiah Thomas. Each of the league’s 32 teams now has a finalized roster. Some squads have even upgraded, hoping to win the NBA championship, while others aren’t thinking about a postseason challenge just yet; it’s clear the next date penciled into their calendar is the NBA draft lottery.

How did the week unfold? What were the blockbuster trades? Did any team get fleeced? And most importantly, how did your favorite team do? We examined the final days leading up to the trade deadline to look at some of the moves that may define the 2016-17 NBA season.

Day Trading

Here’s how the final days leading up to the trade deadline played out across the NBA.



New Orleans Pelicans acquire center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Omri Casspi from the Sacramento Kings for shooting guard Tyreke Evans, point guard Langston Galloway, shooting guard Buddy Hield, a 2017 top-three protected first-round pick, and a 2017 second-round pick.

Talk about a blockbuster trade! New Orleans knew they needed a playmaker to play with their star, Anthony Davis, so they went and got one in Boogie Cousins. As the official Pelicans Twitter account claimed, this is the pairing of fire and ice. It definitely elevates the talent level of the Pelicans, even if they had to give up promising rookie Buddy Hield. Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated both awarded New Orleans an “A+” for executing this trade. As for the Kings, Bleacher Report awarded this trade an “F.” Ouch!

Outside @smoothiekingcenter! #pelicans

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Los Angeles Lakers acquire shooting guard Corey Brewer and a 2017 first-round pick from the Houston Rockets for point guard Lou Williams.

Houston has clearly scrapped the idea of playing defense by adding another strong shooter to their roster. Coach D’Antoni may be adopting the philosophy that the best defense is a ridiculously potent offense by adding Williams. On his first night, Williams scored 27 points, had two assists and rebounds, and made seven 3-pointers. Talk about an immediate impact. The Rockets received “B” and “B+” grades for this trade, while the Lakers received a “B-.” Sports writers have questioned if they could have received more from Williams, who was only scheduled to be paid a $7 million salary next season.


Washington Wizards acquired small forward Bojan Bogdanovic and power forward Chris McCullough from the Brooklyn Nets for power forward Andrew Nicholson, shooting guard Marcus Thornton, and a 2017 lottery-protected first-round pick.

The Washington Wizards needed to get out of Andrew Nicholson’s contact – he was due $20 million a year for the next three seasons – and they paid a heavy price for it: their lottery-protected first-round draft pick. Given the Nets first-round pick belonged to the Boston Celtics, most felt this was a wise move to get the Empire State team back into the draft mix. They were given a grade of “A-,” whereas the Wizards received “B-” grades for their move. Most felt the Wizards didn’t significantly upgrade to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Eastern Conference’s presumptive favorite.


Chicago Bulls acquired center Joffrey Lauvergne, shooting guard Anthony Morrow, and point guard Cameron Payne from the Oklahoma City Thunder for center Taj Gibson, power forward Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick.

McDermott adds firepower to the Thunder’s lineup. OKC ranked last in the league in a wide-open 3-point percentage, just over 32 percent, whereas the former Bull has been nailing over 40 percent of his uncontested shots from a distance. The Thunder received “A’s” for giving up handshake expert extraordinaire Cameron Payne to make this happen. Chicago earned criticism for downgrading their offense, even if they’ll be in a more enviable financial position at the end of the season.

Number 25 for your OKC Thunder, Doug McDermott. #McBuckets

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Pass or Fail?

Whether your team made the grade or should potentially be asking for a redo, root them on for the rest of the season by wearing the best officially licensed NBA merchandise and apparel, available at Fanatics.com.