Detroit Pistons

Jack McCloskey, architect of Detroit Pistons Bad Boys teams, dies at 91

Jack McCloskey, who built the Detroit Pistons teams that won back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990, died Thursday in Savannah, Ga., the team announced.

He was 91.

Nicknamed “Trader Jack” for the deals he made that turned the Pistons into an NBA powerhouse, McCloskey was the Pistons general manager from 1979-92.

The Pistons had a 16-62 record in 1979-80 and were 21-61 the following season before McCloskey used the second overall pick in the 1981 draft to select Isiah Thomas out of Indiana.

It marked the start of the Pistons’ ascension into an elite team.

McCloskey added another piece to the championship puzzle in 1985, when he selected little-known Joe Dumars with the 16th overall pick in the draft, and the next year got two more with the additions of John Salley (11th overall) and Dennis Rodman (27th overall) via the draft.

Some of his biggest trades included getting Vinnie Johnson from Seattle for Greg Kelser in 1981; Bill Laimbeer from Cleveland for Phil Hubbard and Paul Mokeski in 1982; Rick Mahorn from Washington for Dan Roundfield in 1985; James Edwards from Phoenix for Ron Moore and a draft pick in 1988; and Mark Aguirre from Dallas for Adrian Dantley in 1989.

All played prominent roles in the Pistons two championships.

McCloskey was also responsible for hiring Chuck Daly, who is the most successful coach in Pistons history. Daly had a 467-271 record during nine seasons in Detroit, coached the first two championship teams and is in the Hall of Fame.

McCloskey was also head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers for two seasons, compiling a 48-116 record from 1972-74. He broke into the NBA as a player, spending one game with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1953.

McCloskey also coached in college at the University of Pennsylvania and Wake Forest and was an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers before joining the Pistons as GM.

The Pistons raised a banner bearing his name into the rafters at The Palace in 2008.

It was announced last month that he had Alzheimer’s. 

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