TAMPA BAY, FL - NOVEMBER 10: Running back Barry Sanders #20 of the Detroit Lions looks on from the sidelines against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 10, 1991 during an NFL football game at Tampa Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. Sanders played for the Lions from 1989-98.(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

The city of Detroit has a long and storied history. For around 100 years it has been the automotive capital of the world. With Henry Ford creating the first assembly lines and constructing a literal automotive empire. The city was built upon the innovative genius of the big three and the thousands upon thousands of workers who made it all possible. The automotive industry is still the backbone of the city to this day. Among other things, the city is also known for their sports teams.

Detroit is one of eight cities in the United States with all 4 major professional sports teams. The sports being Hockey, Baseball, Football and Basketball. Between the 4 major teams, technically all 4 have enjoyed raising the championship banner. While technically the Detroit Lions only won a championship because the Super Bowl wasn’t an official championship until the 1960’s. The Pistons have won three NBA championships, their first coming in 1989, followed by 1990 and 2004. While the Detroit Tigers have won themselves 4 World Series titles throughout their history. Winning in 1935, 1945, 1968, and 1984. Lastly the Red Wings have a whopping 11 Stanley Cups under their belts. The Wings won their first cup back in 1936 and most recently won in 2008. Of course, if we are being honest the Lions have no Super Bowls in the team’s history. They do have 4 NFL championships however, dating back to 1957.

Superstar teams

With all of the great history throughout these 4 sports teams, some of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen have came out of Detroit. The Tigers have had unreal teams in the 60’s, 80’s and the early 2010’s. The Red Wings have had so many spectacular squads it’s too long to write about. The Bad Boys and going to work Pistons put the basketball world on notice. Fans fell in love with all sorts of players throughout time. Here is a list of some of the most beloved sports stars in Detroit history. Some are superstars that lead us to the promise land, and others were impossible not to love.

 

  • Isiah "Zeke" Thomas

    Averaging 19 points and 9 assists per game throughout his spectacular NBA career, Isiah Thomas is a legend. Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1982 to be their superstar and win them the first title in team history. Zeke did just that. He put the city of Detroit on his back and did everything he could do to lead his team to their first NBA championship. Thomas gave everything his body had to give, which unfortunately caused Isiah to retire at the age of 33.

    CHICAGO, IL - CIRCA 1990: Isiah Thomas #11 of the Detroit Pistons grabs a rebound against the Chicago Bulls during an NBA basketball game circa 1990 at Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas played for the Pistons from 1981-94. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

    CHICAGO, IL – CIRCA 1990: Isiah Thomas #11 of the Detroit Pistons grabs a rebound against the Chicago Bulls during an NBA basketball game circa 1990 at Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas played for the Pistons from 1981-94. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

  • Miguel Cabrera

    A career .306 Career batting Average, 510 homeruns and counting with over 3000 hits and over 1800 career runs batted in. Miguel Cabrera is a certified hall of famer without doubt. Through all of the “Miggy Moments” and legendary plays, he is one of the most beloved sports icons in Detroit history and maybe all of sports. Miggy has won multiple Silver Slugger awards, batting titles and even the famed Triple Crown. Leading the entire league in batting average, homeruns and RBI’s during the 2012 season. Nobody can ever take these superhuman feats away from Cabrera and he will live on in the history books long after he retires.

  • Justin Verlander

    Arguably the greatest starting pitcher to ever play for the Detroit Tigers. Verlander won a Cy Young with the Tigers and even won 2 additional Cy Young awards with the Astros. Earning almost 200 wins during his time with Detroit, he seemed to cement himself as one of the most complete pitchers in our history. Putting up a historic season in 2011, winning 24 games and only losing 5. That year Justin put up an ERA of 2.40 and had 250 strikeouts. He was phenomenal and the city will forever love him for his greatness.

    DENVER, CO - AUGUST 30: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a game at Coors Field on August 30, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

    DENVER, CO – AUGUST 30: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a game at Coors Field on August 30, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

  • Dennis Rodman

    While Dennis Rodman wasn’t the best player on any court during his NBA career, he will always be admired for being the hardest worker. Dennis was tough as nails and had the heart of a champion. He seemed to almost have a superhuman ability to keep fighting on the basketball court. He was a rebounding champion and multiple time defensive player of the year award winner. What was so inspiring about Dennis is he truly came from nothing. Before he made it to the NBA, he was an airport Janitor who would practice basketball in his spare time. No colleges were interested in him except one Community college. After that, the rest is history.

  • Ben Wallace

    Ben Wallace was like a reincarnated version of Dennis Rodman, only bigger. Wallace was considered an undersized center standing at 6 foot 9, something he took offense to. His play on the basketball court showed that. “The Fro” as he was called was a force to be reckoned with, and a crucial part of the going to work Pistons during their 2004 NBA championship run.

  • Calvin "Megatron" Johnson

    A player that seemingly was designed in A Lab. A 6 foot 5, 240-pound wide receiver who ran a 4.40 40-yard dash. Megatron was truly one of one. Calvin Johnson shattered records while playing most of his career for a mediocre franchise in the Detroit Lions. Johnson was impossible to defend, he was too big for Cornerbacks to stop him. Too fast for Safeties to stay with him and he ate double coverage for breakfast. It’s a shame injuries and a lack of winning cut his career as short as it did. What made fans love him so much is that like Barry Sanders, he gave his entire heart to the city. He was their one true superstar Wide Receiver.

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