Wednesday , Nov , 15 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Bad Boy Mahorn: a good, solid pro

(Sports Network) – Rick Mahorn enjoyed a long, successful career in the NBA.
He played 18 seasons in the league and logged minutes for four different
franchises.

Mahorn, who played for the Washington Bullets, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia
76ers and New Jersey Nets, owns a championship ring that he earned as a member
of the 1988-89 Pistons.

The story of the championship season for the ’88-89 Pistons is available on
Warner Home Video.

The Sports Network was fortunate enough to ask Mahorn some questions about his
career, teammates and his championship experience with the Pistons, who were
so popularly referred to as The Bad Boys.

The 1988-89 Pistons finished 63-19 during the regular season and were an
outstanding 15-2 during their playoff run. Detroit swept Boston, 3-0, and
Milwaukee, 4-0, in rounds one and two of the postseason. In the Eastern
Conference finals, the Pistons edged Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in
six, then swept the Los Angeles Lakers for their first-ever championship.

During the magical season, the Pistons made a big trade when they dealt
forward Adrian Dantley, who averaged 20.0 points per game for the Pistons
during the 1987-88 campaign, and a No. 1 draft pick to the Dallas Mavericks
for Mark Aguirre.

When asked what effect on the team the trade had, Mahorn answered “It was an
adjustment. Especially when you lose a player and a friend who you have played
with. Dantley was the consummate professional and taught me how to be a
professional. The emergence of Aguirre definitely helped us.”

Before the Pistons won the title, they experienced some tough postseason
losses. In 1986-87, Detroit fell in seven games in the conference finals to
the Celtics. The following season, the Pistons got over the hump and advanced
the to the NBA Finals where they were ousted in seven by Magic Johnson and the
Lakers.

How did the loss to Boston in seven games during the 1986-87 Eastern
Conference finals help get the Pistons over the playoff hump and into their
first NBA Finals the following year?

“Made us (the Pistons) realize we had to have the best record so we would have
home-court advantage,” said Mahorn. “Boston was almost unbeatable at home and
we learned we needed to have that advantage.”

Mahorn was known as an enforcer during his playing days and was willing to do
whatever it took to give his squad an edge. He did the dirty work that helps
teams win games. The tough forward was never afraid to get his hands dirty, as
he was always banging down low with the giants of the NBA, setting hard picks
for his teammates and diving on the floor for the loose ball. Players thought
twice before they drove the lane when Mahorn was on the floor.

What made him the intimidating presence that he was throughout his career?

“Don’t really know,” Mahorn replied. “Players just knew that I belonged in the
league.”

When I watch Chicago Bulls center Ben Wallace play, I think that his game is
very similar to the way Mahorn played. Like Mahorn during his playing days,
Wallace, who spent six seasons with Detroit and won a championship with the
2003-2004 Pistons, is not on the court for his offensive ability. Defense and
hard-nosed, intimidating play are what made and makes both players essential
to have on a winning team.

What player today reminds him most of himself?

“Not anyone,” Mahorn said. “The rules have changed and the game is not played
the same way.”

On the 1988-89 Pistons, Mahorn played with Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis
Rodman and Isiah Thomas. In Philadelphia, he played with Charles Barkley
during the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons. Bottom line, Mahorn has played with
some greats. Who was his favorite teammate?

“Charles Barkley,” Mahorn replied. “I always wanted to be able to do the
things he did on the court. The way he jumped and was able to do anything
against anyone. He was unbelievable.”

Mahorn played for some great teams and set some picks for some of the best
players to ever play the game. He was a winner on the court and will forever
be a member of the 1988-89 world champion Pistons.