Fred Zollner was an industrialist and founder of the Zollner Corporation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1939, he decided to enrich a boring routine of the piston manufacturer and based a basketball club. The man named the team Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. For 7 years, Pistons had been playing in the NBL, where they became champions twice. In 1948, the club joined the BAA that very soon was transformed into the NBA. Despite the popularity of the team in their hometown, the leadership, following the trends of that time, thought about moving to a larger place. Therefore, the team moved to Detroit in 1957. It should be mentioned, that the city’s name was very appropriate to the team’s one.
It is worth noting that the capital of the Automobile State already had its own basketball clubs, but “hungry” fans who were passionate about spectacles warmly welcomed the settlers, who changed the name to the more patriotic Detroit Pistons.
We can’t help mentioning the merits of the team owner, who was a hot basketball fan. Zolner provided all possible support to the newly formed Association and became one of the initiators who introduced a shot-clock and 6-foul limitation game rules. In addition, he was the first owner who acquired a personal airplane for team travel between cities.
The significant contribution of Fred Zollner was appreciated: in 1999, he was introduced to the NBA Hall of Fame, and the trophy of the winners of the Western Conference still bears his name.
Detroit Pistons logo history
Since the late ’50s, the club used a very laconic emblem: the name, depicted on a background in the form of a basketball. There are several variants of the Detroit Pistons logo, distinguished by the color of letters, font, and other minor details. In the 80s, designers remained only one inscription “Detroit Pistons”.
1941 – 1947
The first name of the team, founded in 1941, was the Ft. Wayne Zollner Pistons. Its logo featured a cartoonish robot-like character made of pistons. It was holding a red basketball in its hand. The robot itself was red as well.
1948 – 1957
A new redesign of the robot took place in 1948 when the team name was shortened to the Ft. Wayne Pistons. The robot was turned gray, changed its position and now no longer held, but dribbled the brown basketball on the ground. Besides, now it had human hands and was wearing club black sneakers. The red letter “Z” was clearly seen on its torso.
1957 – 1971
After moving to Detroit, the franchise changed its name to Detroit Pistons. The unveiled in 1957 logo contained a white basketball with a blue outline and the “Detroit Pistons” wordmark in red, as well as the words “Basketball club”. Below, there was a dark blue-scripted “National Basketball ASSN.” wordmark.
1971 – 1975
Actually, the fourth logo introduced in 1971, looked almost identical, though the “National Basketball ASSN.” text was completely gone.
1975 – 1979
The following version combined the features of the previous ones. It depicted a blue basketball with the orange “Detroit Pistons” wordmark, but now in a different font, and the orange NBA abbreviation below.
1979 – 1996
The 1980 logo design was changed in favor of a red and blue circle reminding basketball with white spherical lines with the white-scripted “Detroit Pistons” lettering in the middle.
1996 – 2001
In summer of 1996, striving to stay up to date with the latest trends, the Pistons made a radical change to the logo and the color scheme, which now included black, red, silver, and yellow. The new logo featured a black horse’s head with flaming mane inside a red and blue circle. The red circle in the background signified a classic basketball. The outer blue circle contained the name of the team’s hometown. The white-scripted “Pistons” wordmark was trimmed with a black and blue outline and a thin orange line in the middle. The flames came out of exhaust pipes extended from the letters “S”.
2001 – 2005
In 2001, the colors of the Detroit Pistons emblem were slightly changed (the green ring turned blue, the orange and the cherry were replaced by red and white). These updates were aimed to remind the team’s best years when these colors were used.
2005 – 2017
The emblem with the horse’s head wasn’t popular. Both fans and journalists mostly criticized this variant of the Detroit Pistons logo. Moreover, it was called an emblem for car races or for racing. As a result, in the 2005/2006 season, the management of the team adopted a new simplified design. Now the Detroit Pistons emblem is represented by a basketball and the team name inscription.
2017 – present
In 2017, in a return to glory, the Pistons have brought back to the 1980 logo. It presents the name of the team inside a red basketball with a bold blue outline and a thin chrome ring around it. The minor changes include improved image quality and brighter shades of main colors. In Michigan, it is believed that this will be a new chapter in club history. This is the eighth renewal of the club’s emblem of the team, founded in 1941.