In an era dominated by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and an emerging Michael Jordan, somehow a band of misfits was able to make its mark and take part in NBA history.
The Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s were made up of gritty, hard-nosed players that weren’t afraid to back down from anyone, and won back-to-back championships in ’89 and ’90. This documentary tells about a real life drama that is completed with a full cast compelling characters. The ESPN film “Bad Boys” from its 30 for 30 series lived up to my high expectation.
I was intrigued with how two star players, who grew up in the same town, but lived on opposite childhoods, were able to connect in less than a blink of an eye. Bill Laimbeer was raised in a wealthy neighborhood in Chicago by his mother and father, who was a exceptionally successful businessman, while Isiah Thomas struggled with finding meals and getting to school without being involved in a physical altercation everyday. The irony in this is that Laimbeer was portrayed as the tough and thug-like character on the court, while Thomas was seen as sweet and smiley player.
One thing I wished the documentary dipped into more was Dennis Rodman’s upbringing. Rodman has arguable lived the most interesting life by any being that has walked on this planet. He is one of the most loony personalities in the world, and you knew his background, you would understand why.
I was never able to witness Detroit’s Bad Boys, because they were around just a few years before I was born, but this documentary opened my eyes to how differently basketball is played now.
Today players pretend to get hit and flop on the ground with intentions of drawing a foul. When they try to act tough, they just hop up and down and say, “Hold me back, bro!”
The Bad Boys weren’t scared to throw a punch, and neither were Jordan, Bird, Dr. J and the rest of the NBA. But the rules have changed. In the playoffs in 1987, Boston Celtic legend Robert Parish sucker punched Laimbeer with two hammer fists, didn’t receive and an ejection, and played the rest of the game. If that were to happen today, Parrish would be suspended for 15 games and pay an extensive fine.