The Detroit Pistons are an American professional basketball team based in Detroit. The Pistons compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division and play their home games at Little Caesars Arena, located in Midtown. Founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as a semi-professional company basketball team called the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons in 1937, they would turn pro in 1941 as a member of the National Basketball League (NBL), where they won two NBL championships: in 1944 and 1945. The Pistons later joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1948. The NBL and BAA merged to become the NBA in 1949, and the Pistons became part of the merged league. In 1957, the franchise moved to Detroit. The Pistons have won three NBA championships: in 1989, 1990 and 2004.
Fred Zollner owned the Zollner Corporation, a foundry that manufactured pistons, primarily for car, truck, and locomotive engines in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1937, Zollner sponsored a semi-professional company basketball team called the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons after he received a request from his workers. In 1941, the Zollner Pistons shed their works team roots and joined the National Basketball League (NBL). The Zollner Pistons were NBL champions in 1944 and 1945. They also won the World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1944, 1945 and 1946.
In 1948, the team became the Fort Wayne Pistons and jumped to the Basketball Association of America (BAA). In 1949, Fred Zollner brokered the formation of the National Basketball Association from the BAA and the NBL at his kitchen table.
There are suggestions that Pistons players conspired with gamblers to shave points and throw various games during the 1953–54 and 1954–55 seasons. In particular, there are accusations that the team may have intentionally lost the 1955 NBA Finals to the Syracuse Nationals. In the decisive Game 7, the Pistons led 41–24 early in the second quarter before the Nationals rallied to win the game. The Nationals won on a free throw by George King with 12 seconds left in the game. The closing moments included a palming turnover by the Pistons' George Yardley with 18 seconds left, a foul by Frank Brian with 12 seconds left that enabled King's winning free throw, and a turnover by the Pistons' Andy Phillip in the final seconds which cost them a chance to attempt the game winning shot. In the following season, the Pistons made it back to the NBA Finals. However, they were defeated by the Philadelphia Warriors in five games.