During the playoff runs of various Detroit teams in the past year, an interesting trend has arisen. It seems that opposing fans are taking great joy in chanting “De-troit sucks” during playoff games.
Over the years, the only other city I’ve ever seen draw the ire of fans as much is Los Angeles, with the famous “Beat L.A.!” chants commonplace around NBA arenas when the Lakers were powerhouses.
On top of that, the hecklers seem to come out in full force when Detroit teams are in town. Perhaps it’s a result of the city’s success across basketball with the Pistons, hockey with the Red Wings, and now baseball with the Detroit Tigers.
The hecklers always seem to come out in full force when Detroit teams are in town as well, especially when the Detroit Pistons come to town. Pistons hecklers are known as the some of the most ruthless ones in the NBA, so maybe the diehard fans from other teams are striking back when the Pistons are in their backyard. Mostly, however, the Pistons have players other fans love to hate.
Even though I love the Pistons, I’m the first to admit they (along with the Spurs) are one of the whiniest groups of players in the NBA, and it all started when Rasheed Wallace came to town. Wallace is very entertaining to watch when he’s on your side, trust me, but for opposing fans, he gets on nerves faster than just about any player in the league. He complains about almost every call. Sometimes he’s right and other times he’s not, but his act gets old quick.
He also plays the Dennis Rodman/Bill Laimbeer/Reggie Miller role of villain on the road very well, often calling out the opposing team’s fans and generally being loud and obnoxious for most of the game.
Throw in the fact that the Pistons have a history with the whole “Bad Boys” era and it’s easy to understand why they are so hated by fans when they come to town in the playoffs.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, are hated by many different fans around the NHL. We haven’t seen it as much since they’ve been forced to play teams that aren’t anywhere close to their rivals (due to the NHL’s idiotic conference structuring…but that’s another article altogether) such as Anaheim and San Jose, but Detroit is one of the NHL’s most polarizing teams for sure. Some out-of-towners love them and wear Wings jerseys to games at opposing teams’ arenas, while others jeer them loudly. Rivalries and bad blood with the Colorado Avalanche and the NHL’s other five members of the Original Six are commonplace as well.
There also is a bit of a backlash based on the fact that the Wings were like the New York Yankees of the NHL just a few short years ago before the salary cap, at one point assembling a roster chock-full of hall-of-famers with a payroll far exceeding that of other teams, especially all of the smaller-market Canadian teams that had minuscule payrolls compared to Detroit and craved a winning team.
Some of it also seems to come from the fact that the city of Detroit’s problems have been well-publicized, and some TV and radio hosts have taken shots in the press at the city and in some cases caught flak for it. That trend seems to have died down since late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was taken to task for his anti-Detroit remarks, saying that fans would burn the city down regardless of whether the Pistons won or lost.
Regardless of the cause, Detroit will probably continue to be city full of villainous teams as long as they are successful. But by now, residents of the city are used to it, and seem to embrace the role. And at the end of the day, that’s what makes it so fun.