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Bad Boys Doing Big Business After Winning NBA Championship

June 14, 1989

DETROIT (AP) _ Cereal boxes. Television commercials. T-shirts. The spoils of victory belong to the Detroit Pistons.

The Bad Boys from Motown were doing great business Wednesday hours after winning their first NBA championship.

Lines began forming at 6 a.m. for a tent sale of Pistons paraphernalia outside the Palace of Auburn Hills, where more than 21,000 people watched the Pistons’ final victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on a big screen television Tuesday night.

The victory at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., gave the Pistons a four-game sweep of the two-time defending NBA champions.

Trucks carrying hot-off-the-press T-shirts and banners proclaiming the Pistons’ feat pulled into the Palace parking lot through the night.

More than 1,000 shoppers perused the goods all morning. Cashiers were pulling in about $3,000 an hour, said Frank Battaglia, director of merchandizing for the Palace and the Pistons.

″We’ve been hustling since the end of the game,″ said Battaglia, who arrived for work at 10 a.m. Tuesday and never left. ″They started printing T- shirts the minute the buzzer went off for the championship.″

At the Athletic Supporter Inc. in Farmington Hills, eight of 10 calls were for orders of Bad Boys merchandise.

Owner Bill Berris and associate Robin Brant came up with the Bad Boys skull and crossbones logo last November. It grew out of the team’s rough-and-tumble image and a gift from Los Angeles Raiders executive Al Davis, who sent black and silver T-shirts to the Pistons during the 1987-88 season.

The Bad Boys logo now is a multimillion-dollar property, Berris said Wednesday.

His company has orders pending for 22,000 T-shirts a day. It can’t ship the orders as fast as they are coming in, said Berris, whose brother is the team dentist. One recent shipment went to Israel.

″The closest thing I’ve had to this logo was the 1984 Detroit Tigers,″ Berris said. The Tigers won the World Series that year.

Many inquiries for the Bad Boys logo are from businesses willing to pay to use it on other products.

The Pistons themselves can expect plenty of phone calls, too. And if they’re interested in hawking a product, they should move fast.

″I think the shelf life of the Detroit Pistons is nowhere near as great as for the Los Angeles Lakers,″ said Steve Warshaw, team sports marketing manager for International Management Group, a Cleveland-based sports and entertainment marketing company.

Warshaw said the size of the media market has a great bearing on how long a player is marketable.

No Pistons are represented by IMG, but Lakers Orlando Woolridge and A.C. Green are, ″which probably explains who we were rooting for,″ Warshaw said.

Still, series Most Valuable Player Joe Dumars was tapped for a post-victory ″I’m going to Disneyland 3/8″ advertisement. The commercial, filmed as Dumars left the court Tuesday night, is reported to be worth $40,000.

General Mills Corp. reportedly has Wheaties boxes showing the Pistons ready for regional distribution, but spokeswoman Kathryn Newton in Minneapolis declined Wednesday to confirm details.

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