Detroit’s rich sports history is filled with a long list of great athletes who inspired generations of fans. For the past 60 years, the Motor City has also been home to a slew of professional athletes who had a little trouble inside the lines. Some of the best, most notorious former athletes of the Motor City include:

Rick Mahorn was a Detroit Lions linebacker who played for the team for 11 years and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mahorn was notorious for his rough style of play, so much so that the NFL fined him $5,000 in 2009 for a love tap on then-teammate Calvin Johnson.

When it comes to the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys,” Rick Mahorn isn’t typically the first name that springs to mind. Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, and Isiah Thomas are generally linked with Pistons teams that won with skill and toughness in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Mahorn, on the other hand, was perhaps the baddest of the Bad Boys. He was the one who used fear to get what he wanted. He performed the grunt work against some of the league’s top big men. Despite his $5,000 penalties for “love taps,” Mahorn was effective.

Rick Mahorn was dubbed “the baddest Bad Boy of All Time.”


Rick-Mahorn-1-1024x786 Darrell Armstrong (R) of the Orlando Magic gets possession of the ball as he fights for a rebound with Rick Mahorn of the Detroit Pistons. | Andrew Cutraro/AFP via Getty Images

Mahorn wasn’t showy, but he was a capable low-post player. He’s exactly what the NBA needs right now: a strong inside presence to keep guys from going to the basket. Mahorn stood 6-foot-10 and weighed 240 pounds, and he was a physical specimen.

He was traded to the Pistons after five seasons with the Washington Bullets, the club that selected him in the second round of the 1980 NBA Draft. In his initial tenure with the club, he spent four years in Detroit. In 1989, he won his lone NBA championship as a member of the Bad Boys in his fourth season.

On a Pistons squad renowned for its aggressiveness that bordered on dirty play, Mahorn played alongside Laimbeer and Rodman. Laimbeer was regarded as one of the league’s roughest players. Rodman’s crazy antics, aggression, and rebounding skills attracted a lot of attention to himself. Mahorn used his physical presence and intimidation to successfully intimidate the Pistons.

According to, longtime Pistons announcer George Blaha dubbed Mahorn the “baddest Bad Boy of them all.”

Rick Mahorn was a lot more than a bully.

In 1989, Mahorn was an important piece of the Pistons’ championship-clinching jigsaw, contributing to the city’s Bad Boy reputation. Mahorn never backed down from a challenge and was often assigned to defend some of the league’s best big men. He never shied away from a challenge. He made it clear that he wasn’t just a bully.

In April 1989, Mahorn told Sports Illustrated, “My notoriety is false.” “I’m a good player. If I couldn’t play, I wouldn’t have stayed in this league for nine years. This is a thug, and this is an enforcer. When you consider who I have to protect, I take 48 minutes extremely seriously.

“Every night, it’s Ewing, Kevin McHale, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, and Mailman Malone. Do you know anybody who might be interested in that?”

Coach Chuck Daly, who coached Mahorn in Detroit at the time, understood the importance of his big man.

He added, “Rick adds maturity, unselfishness, and a glue to our group.” “We definitely need that defensive rebounding and that low-post D.”

Mahorn’s ‘love taps’ cost him a lot of money.

Despite gaining a reputation for overdoing some of his aggressiveness, Mahorn gained the respect of some of the game’s greatest stars. Patrick Ewing, a Hall of Fame center, fought Mahorn on numerous occasions and knew he was in for a fight each time.

Ewing told Sports Illustrated, “He’s a terrific defender who understands all the techniques.” “He has the ability to push you out, then yank the chair away from you, causing you to fall flat on your buttocks. I know it’s going to be a battle until the day I play Rick Mahorn.”

Mahorn was a bit lighter in the pocketbook due of his physical play, maybe because he was a member of the Bad Boys.

Mahorn had been fined $5,000 earlier in the 1988-89 season for a play on Cleveland Cavaliers point player Mark Price that caused him to miss two games due to a concussion. His total penalties for the season now stand at $11,000.

Mahorn stated at the time, “I don’t see how he could have suffered a concussion.” “I brushed into him only a smidgeon. That would be called a love tap in the hole. Hey, I have no grudge towards Price.”

That was Mahorn’s third fine for rough play this year. He said that he would not alter his mannerisms.

“If it kills me, I’ll play and help us win.” He replied, “If it kills you.”

RELATED: Why Was Bill Laimbeer the NBA’s Most Hateful Player? He had a flimsy theory.

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