The Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons were a professional basketball team playing in the National Basketball League from 1941 to 1947. The team is now called the Detroit Pistons.
The team was found in 1941 when the owner of Zollner Machine Works, Fred Zollner introduced the team in the NBL. Zollner Corporation was a foundry which manufactured pistons for locomotives, trucks and cars, hence the name Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. The team colors were Blue, White and Red and the logo was a tin man made of pistons, holding a basketball and “Z” on his chest. The team played in their home arena at North Side High School Gym and the Memorial Coliseum.
Reaching the finals in the very first year that they started playing, the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons were a strong team. Even though they lost in the 1941 NBL Finals, the Pistons finished first in the Eastern Division with 17 wins and 6 losses the next season in 1942 only to loose the finals to the Sheboygan Red Skins. In 1943, the Pistons who were on fire after loosing two consecutive finals to close calls were desperate to win. They once again finished first to qualify in the playoffs with 18 wins and 4 losses and went on to win the 1943 NBL Championships, defeating the former Champions, Sheboygan Red Skins. In 1944, the Pistons topped the playoff qualification lists with 25 wins and 5 losses and reached the finals to face the Red Skins for the third time and yet again win their second NBL Championships. The following season in 1945, the Pistons once again finished first with 26 wins and 8 losses however did not make it through the playoffs to reach the finals. This was the beginning of the downfall of the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons and as they failed to finish first for the first time since 1942. The end of the 1947 season saw the Pistons along with Rochester Royals, Minneapolis Lakers and Indianapolis Jets move to the Basketball Association of America who would merge with the NBL to form the NBA. The Pistons became the Fort Wayne Pistons that year after dropping Zollner from their name. Owner Fred Zolner was later inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Robert McDermott who coached the Pistons from 1943 to 1946 is another Hall of Famer.
NBL Champions, 1944 and 1945.