Where Do Pistons Rank Among Detroit’s Four Pro Teams in Popularity? Fan’s Take

The Detroit Pistons had some of the most beloved NBA teams in history, among their hometown fans that is, during their championship runs in 2004, 1989 and 1990.

But recent figures on the attendance problem surrounding the team as well as a rough 2011-2012 season and recent lean years in the wins department have cast doubt on the popularity of the team in Detroit.

As a lifelong Detroit Pistons fan who has seen the majority of their games since the early-to-mid-1990s, I have seen popularity for the team waver many times, going up and down like the stock market depending on the situation.

The outpouring of love for the championship teams and even the winning teams that led up to those title teams is not lost on me, however. When the Detroit fans are given a winning team that has a connection to the city's great work ethic, they respond like few other NBA cities. But personally, I feel that the Pistons rank fourth among Detroit sports franchises in terms of popularity as a whole. Here are my rankings for the city's teams and a few words on why I picked them where i did:

1. Detroit Lions - The interest in this year's team, which lost in the first round to the Saints, was off the charts. If the Lions ever win the Super Bowl for the first time, pandemonium will erupt in Detroit. It's safe to say that the Motor City is a football town based solely on their love for one of the historically worst franchises in the league including various sellouts in the gigantic, and ugly, Pontiac Silverdome back in the day before Ford Field. The Lions filled up 98.8% of their capacity in the NFL this past season.

2. Detroit Tigers - While the Red Wings remain extremely popular (everyone loves a winner and they're the New York Yankees of hockey), the Tigers are the second-most talked about team on sports talk radio in the area by my estimation. Meanwhile, I rarely hear Red Wings talk until the playoffs. The Tigers had down years that were Lion-like for a long time but they're competitive now and the fans love them. The Tigers were 13th in attendance in MLB last year which is a solid number although it could be better for a first place team.

3. Detroit Red Wings - This may surprise some fans considering Detroit's 'Hockeytown' moniker but the Red Wings are not as popular as the top two in my opinion. The team is still beloved and I usually see people in public wearing lots of Red Wings gear, but fans have almost become wary of their great success and some actually wait until the playoffs to begin following more seriously. The Red Wings are 4th in the NHL in attendance in 2011-2012 however suggesting that fan support is stronger than ever.

4. Detroit Pistons - The NBA squad can be as popular as the Red Wings in successful years in Metro Detroit, especially during the playoffs, but this team has the biggest basement of the four, which they happen to be in now. When they're poor as they are in 2011-2012, the fans tend to exhibit apathy. Even if the Red Wings were to have a bad year somehow, I still think people would follow them, until it became a regular thing. So for now, the Pistons are behind among the four pro teams because of a combination of factors, especially the frustrating 2011-2012 campaign. The four teams aren't competing against each other per se, but in this rough economy, the Pistons will have to become good again in a hurry to avoid falling deeper into a hole in terms of attendance, even for a team that actually led the league in attendance often in recent years.

Nick Meyer is a lifelong Pistons fan from Metro Detroit.

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Updated Thursday, Mar 22, 2012