Remembering Former Detroit Pistons and U of D star Terry Tyler

How we remember him:  Hometown heroes Terry Tyler (“Thunder”) and University of Detroit teammate John Long (“Lightning”) were drafted in 1978 by new Pistons coach Dick Vitale, their U of D coach.  Tyler was one of the most dependable and rugged forwards in franchise history as he quickly became a fan favorite at the Silverdome. His exceptional leaping building helped him set the franchise record for blocked shots,(1070), a mark broken last year by Ben Wallace.  Number 41 never missed a game in his seven years with the Pistons, and he still holds the team record for consecutive games played in a Piston uniform. (574)

Terry TylerAfter the Pistons:  Tyler signed as a free agent in 1985 with Sacramento, the team’s first year in the NBA. He played three seasons with the Kings, and another year with Dallas before playing in Italy for three years. He later was a sports coordinator at a Dallas area YMCA, a three year assistant coach at Notre Dame, and for two seasons head basketball coach at Eastern New Mexico University. Tyler, who obtained his B.A. Degree in Sociology from U of D, as of a few years ago was living in Albuquerque New Mexico where he counseeds troubled youth for the Youth Diagnostic and Developmental Center. He is also active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

On playing for Dick Vitale at U of D and for the Pistons:  “Dick Vitale was hard on me and he really pushed me. But I appreciate him more now for the work ethic he instilled and the way he created a sense of family.  I realize now he was preparing me for life.”

On his time with the Pistons:  “There were some tough years in Detroit, but I just wanted to make a difference. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a ring but doggone it at least we got it going in the right direction. I wanted the fans to know that when they saw me, I was going to give 110%. It was difficult coming back to play the Pistons because I missed them.”

On working with troubled youth:  “God really blessed me with my basketball talents and allowing me to play college and pro basketball in my hometown. I think God said ‘I did something for you, now you do something for me.’ I know I’m serving the Lord by helping these young people.”

On whether he can still do a 45 inch vertical leap.  (Laughing) “ No, maybe two inches. Playing against Dr. J. and Larry Bird, that sort of takes a wear and tear on your body. The knees remind me, ‘hey pal, you’re not 19 years old anymore.’  But I still work out.”

3 replies on “Remembering Former Detroit Pistons and U of D star Terry Tyler

  • Rev. Bill O'Nan

    I would like to make contact with Terry Tyler and his brother Bill if possible. I played some ball with both back in the day. If you could give them my name and e-mail so they could respond I would appreciate it. Thanks and God bless.

  • david sloan

    i met terry doing his last few years with the pistons. also had a chance too visit him in sac, cali. i met him though my girlfriend(wife now). thanks to him i had a chance to go to a lot of piston games. thanks to him. it has been awhile, like to see hoq he is doing thx


    I have been looking for Terry for several years. He was a friend at The University of North Texas. He used to call with good wishes for me and my husband at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have lost touch and I would love to know how to contact him. The last time I saw him, his New Mexico team was playing in Dallas and we went to the game to see him.

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