Before making his presence felt for the New York Knicks in the second part of the ’90s, Allan Houston was drafted into an aging Detroit Pistons squad looking to rebuild. Even though the Pistons were merely a shadow of themselves when they were two-time NBA champions, there was still a lot of grit and toughness in that squad.
In a recent interview for The Players Tribune, Houston remembers how important it was for his career to get drafted by the Detroit Pistons. That team had a lot of pride, but it was slowly entering a process of rebuilding. However, watching two leaders on that team in Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, even for a brief period of time, was enough to inspire Houston and give him the pattern of becoming successful in the NBA.
Detroit was a pivotal time in my life. Looking back on it, I needed to be around people who would push me and challenge me, on and off the court. I experienced the remnants of the Bad Boys. I saw brawls between teammates, players, and management. But I was also fortunate to be mentored by arguably the best NBA backcourt of all time. And wherever Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars went, I followed. I watched their habits, listened to their conversations, studied their preparation.Allan Houston, via The Players Tribune
For any NBA rookie, it’s important to land in a stable organization with good veteran leadership, and for Houston at that time, the Pistons were the right fit. Both Dumars and Thomas took Houston under their wing and taught him how to be a professional and have a broader perspective of everything, both professionally and personally.
These were legends — guys who … they’re in the Old Heads O.G. Hall of Fame. Serious individuals. Grown men. Those guys, they taught me how to be a pro. How to work. They gave me a vision for the type of career and the long-term impact I wanted to have as a professional and as a man. You couldn’t help but learn from those dudes.Allan Houston, via The Players Tribune
Houston remembers his time with the Pistons as a lot of hard work, a great environment if you are young and eager to learn about the game. He learned that no matter what type of skillset you have and how good you were, toughness is a highly desirable trait, and it was imprinted in the Pistons’ DNA.
Everything was about hard work, and the players on those teams … they also taught me a valuable lesson about how grimy it could get in the league back then. Because, for as skilled as the guys on my first few Pistons teams were as players, they brought their lunch pails to work every day. No one wasted anything. And, of course, they were also just world-class brawlers.Allan Houston, via The Players Tribune
Unfortunately for the Pistons, Houston later signed with the Knicks despite the fact they had tremendous potential immediately after Grant Hill was drafted. Prime Hill and Houston could’ve been a great dynamic duo for the Pistons, but eventually, it didn’t work out, and the Knicks came in the right time to snatch Houston away. He later made a name for himself with the Knicks, where he played until the end of his career in 2005.