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Isaiah Stewart Evokes Spirit of the 80’s Bad Boys

Isaiah Stewart
Nov. 21. A bloody Isaiah Stewart goes after Los Angeles Laker star LeBron James after being hit in the face by James’ elbow in the third quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Stewart had to be restrained by coaches, players and security and both James and Stewart were ejected from the game. Stewart Bloody

What unfolded between the Pistons and LA Lakers Sunday night had some remembering “Malice at the Palace”. Others were thinking about the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons.

What started it all? LeBron James landed a punch to the right eye of Isaiah Stewart, which James insisted was accidental.

This prompted scenes of Stewart running around the court seeking vindication. As a result PA announcer John Mason urged fans to not throw anything and remain seated.

It sparked memories of the Bad Boys physical style of play led by players Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Rick Mahorn, John Salley, Dennis Rodman, and Bill Laimbeer among others.

Trying to recapture the glory days of the Bad Boys era, we’ve heard players, coaches and front office personnel reference embodying the spirit and play of the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons. 

Consequently these attempts haven’t resonated with fans, though there is something different about this teams desire to walk the Bad Boys walk.

From the LA Lakers commentators calling Isaiah Stewart, “Isiah Thomas” multiple times, to social media lighting up with trends of “Bad Boys”, the now widely publicized scrum with the more visibly upset Stewart, certainly had a different feel to it.

The Bad Boys physically imposed their will in a way opponents called dirty. But if it’s the only narrative, it cheats the game.

The NBA of the 80’s was largely defined by physical play that went beyond the whistle. However the Bad Boys were better defined by these attributes: unity, teamwork, protection, toughness, high basketball IQ, and sacrifice.

Not Just The Philosophy, But The Why.

The Bad Boys teams bought in to a shared philosophy, with more than lip service designed to make fans go crazy. No, those Detroit Pistons actually had a roster full of the so called “Bad Boys”.

The fans who believe this team may be more than lip service and Bad Boys t-shirts, goes beyond Beef Stew. The Pistons core has shown they won’t back down and no moment has them shook despite their record. 

Protecting and taking up for teammates was at the center of the Bad Boys mentality which is handled differently than in the 80’s, where physical altercation was more prevalent than in todays game.

With changes to rules and fines over the years we shouldn’t encourage anything that would cause Stewart, above all, to miss games (suspension, injury etc). 

This is certainly why we saw Cade Cunningham run into the eye of the storm to help his teammate, he “was trying to stop him from getting into trouble”. 

On one side we saw All-NBA superstar vets Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook squaring up to fight a second-year player. On the other side cooler heads prevailed to prevent catastrophe.

Which scenario sounds more like a Bad Boy to you?

According to video replay Stewart had a right to be upset, though retaliation would only evoke the wrong perception.

Some hoped for Stewart to have his pound of flesh, but in today’s NBA that may have left a stain on his career and given ammunition to a small but vocal minority of opposing fans and media that love to bash Detroit.

Isaiah Stewart didn’t need his teammates help to win a fight, but he did to be a Bad Boy.

The spirit that characterized the Bad Boys beyond physical play, are present with this team.

What the Internet is Saying

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