Founded in 1941 by Fred Zollner, owner of the Zollner Corporation, the Detroit Pistons were initially called the “Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons,” as we have previously covered on “Inside the Name.”
They joined the National Basketball League and quickly became a force in the league, going to the finals for four years in a row, winning two consecutive championships in 1944 and 1945, and posting an obscene .700 winning percentage in their seven years in the NBL.
Fort Wayne then transferred into the Basketball Association of America, going an abysmal 22-38 before the BAA and the NBL decided to merge, creating the NBA we know today. The Pistons strung together 14 consecutive playoff appearances from 1949 to 1963, but only appeared in the NBA Finals twice (in 1955 and 1956), losing both times. Due to some crazy playoffs formats in the infancy of the NBA, the Pistons had only five seasons of a record above .500. In 1957, the Pistons moved to Detroit.