Detroit — A jersey launch party for the Pistons’ bold throwback teal uniforms is being held inside the highest skyscraper in Detroit to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the franchise.
The scenic viewpoint from the Highlands, located at the top of the Renaissance Center, overlooks Little Caesars Arena and the rest of the city’s major sports arenas, all of which were glowing with teal.
In walks Jerry Stackhouse, who towers over almost everyone inside the building. The former Pistons All-Star guard donned the franchise’s bold teal jersey during his stint with the team in 1996 until they were discontinued in 2001.
A brief hype video is displayed to reveal the Pistons’ newest Classic Edition uniforms — featuring the team’s flaming horse logo and exhaust piped-lettering — and shortly after, Stackhouse shows off the latest iteration of the jersey.
Detroit clinched postseason berths three times in that five-year run in teal and maroon, notably worn by Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Joe Dumars and Ben Wallace.
“I think it’s great that people remember some things that we did in that era,” said Stackhouse, whom the Pistons acquired in a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers in 1997. “It wasn’t the glory days. It wasn’t the Bad Boys. It wasn’t the ’04 championship team, but in between that, you had Grant Hill, you had myself, you had Lindsey Hunter and Allan Houston. Terry Mills. You had guys that contributed to taking some ingredients from those Bad Boys.
“I was able to be in the locker room with Rick Mahorn and Joe Dumars. Those guys were men. They taught you how to be a professional. Nothing against Philadelphia, but I was with a lot of young guys. When I got here, that was my first sense that I was around some pros, guys that knew how to go about their business.
“I learned from them and I was able to share that with other young guys that came through the organization. I think some of those ingredients kind of carried through and we were kind of the bridge between those two eras.”
The 2022-23 replica of the teal uniform is identical to its predecessor with black, red and yellow trim on both sides of the jersey. The jersey’s main differences are the United Wholesale Mortgage patch on the left side and the Nike swoosh, used on Classic Edition uniforms, on the right.
Stackhouse earned two All-Star appearances in 2000 and 2001 and averaged 29.8 points per game in the teal’s final year of existence. He dropped a franchise-record 57 points in the maroon version of the uniform against the Chicago Bulls on April 3, 2001.
“I don’t know where that jersey is,” Stackhouse said. “I’m pretty sure somebody could probably locate it. I don’t know if they took that one from me or not. (Pistons director of team operations) Mike Abdenour probably got that jersey somewhere (laughs), but it was a special night and I got special memories from those times and special relationships that I’ve built over that time. No matter where I go, whenever I come back, I feel the love from Detroit.”
Following the jersey announcement, the launch party continued and the Pistons’ guests, in their color-coordinated attire, featured a mix of influencers, musicians, partners, and season-ticketholders, mingled with one another. Stackhouse was greeted by several people who wanted photo ops and to talk about his glory days with the franchise.
“He’s an icon,” said Mike Zavodsky, Pistons chief business officer. “He’s got the highest-point total game in the history of the franchise — and fun fact, he doesn’t even know this — but the first pair of basketball shoes I ever wore was his so it’s pretty cool, at least.”
If you break the franchise’s history into eras with the Bad Boys, “Teal,” and “Goin’ to Work” groups, the latest version of the team can be called “Restore,” as the franchise continues its rebuild under star guard Cade Cunningham, emerging forward Saddiq Bey, along with top lottery picks Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren.
Stackhouse said there are some similarities between the new roster and the squads of the past.
“Cade is super-skilled and he kind of reminds me of Grant Hill,” Stackhouse said. “He can make plays for others, can make plays for himself. This kid, he kind of reminds me of myself, the way that he attacks the basket. I don’t know if I had any point-guard skills (laughs). I’m excited for Saddiq Bey and Stewart. Those guys bring a toughness that really represents Detroit and what we’re about. I think it’s time for them to take that next step.”
The Pistons’ decision to revitalize the teal throwbacks was met mostly with adoration, but there’s a horde of fans out there that strongly disliked the change. The decision to move away from the team’s traditional color scheme of red, white and blue was also shunned in the past.
“I think it was kind of met with mixed emotions when it first (released),” Stackhouse said. “People can’t take change, but once it was gone, they were like, ‘Man, we kind of like that,’ and I think that it’s been enough clamor around it that the fans wanted it back. I’m glad that the Pistons thought enough of me to bring me back to help relaunch it.”