When he took over the Pistons’ front office in 1979, Jack McCloskey offered to trade the entire roster to the Lakers for Magic Johnson.
When he identified Dennis Rodman as the top prospect available at No. 11 in the 1986 draft, McCloskey took John Salley and banked on Rodman to fall to the second round – and nabbed Rodman with the third pick of the second round.
When Detroit was coming off a close loss in the 1988 Finals and had the NBA’s second-best record in February 1989, McCloskey traded leading scorer Adrian Dantley for Mark Aguirre.
McCloskey acted boldly again and again, acquiring every player on the Pistons’ 1989 and 1990 championship teams. He assembled the iconic Bad Boys and, as that era infamously ended with the Pistons walking off the court against the Bulls, he stood in the tunnel to high-fived Bill Laimbeer and hug Isiah Thomas as they left.
Appreciated in Detroit but unfairly overlooked by the Hall of Fame, McCloskey died today at age 91, the Pistons announced.
The basketball lifer played one game for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1953, coached Penn, Wake Forest and the Trail Blazers and ran the Timberwolves for a few years in the 1990s.
But he peaked in Detroit: back-to-back titles, three straight Finals and five straight conference finals. One of the players he drafted and won with, Joe Dumars, served as general manager for the Pistons other championship in 2004.
McCloskey built a tremendous team – and a tremendous legacy.