At some point, Tom Gores is going to have a track record as Pistons owner, and inevitably, he’s going to face criticism. But for now? Everything is pretty, pretty, pretty good. Feldman already gave his thoughts on the presser yesterday, but he was far from the only one excited to see the Pistons operating like a fully functioning NBA team once again. Here’s a collection of reactions:
Overall, I think Pistons fans have good reason to be excited — Gores emphasized accountability and acting quick to correct mistakes, something that this franchise has sorely missed the past couple of seasons.
When asked what type of owner he will be — hands on like Mark Cuban or hands off like Bill Davidson? — Gores went all Batman on us (“I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be”):
“First, I’m Tom Gores, I can’t be either one of them. And I’ve learned that you have to be yourself,” he said. “I’m willing to be whatever the franchise and the organization needs. If they are going to get inspired by me being next to the bench and next to the players? Great. If they’re going to be distracted by me? Then you might see me on the roof.”
It had been a foregone conclusion that Gores would keep Dumars in his role. Fittingly, Dumars was introduced as the team’s personnel leader in a similar scene, when hired by Bill Davidson more than 10 years ago.
Gores and Dumars hit it off immediately. Gores even revealed that NBA commissioner David Stern wasn’t happy because they were conferring before Gores officially owned the team.
Bill Davidson’s son, Ethan, had a few short remarks before Gores took the stage.
“I look forward to seeing Tom carry on Bill’s legacy,” Karen Davidson said.
Karen and Ethan Davidson will retain a small ownership stake.
“Hey, if you’re on board, and we’re paying you, then we expect value. That means full value. You’ll be out there with the community, delivering the shots you have to deliver, and practicing hard as heck. That’s going to be a lot of our motto with the people we bring on. You can’t show up based on your resume, you have to show up on the court.” This is welcome news to fans who haven’t been pleased with the perceived lack of effort certain players gave the past couple seasons.
Just left the press conference, looking forward on being a part of the new era that’s about to begin with Tom Gore. Let the challenge begin.
(Villanueva misspelling Gores’ last name must be payback for Gores mis-pronouncing John Kuester‘s last name during the press conference)
Karen Davidson spoke before Gores was introduced and expressed her excitement for the transition of ownership.
“It’s the end of one golden era and the beginning of another,” she said.
Gores needed no help Thursday. It was all fun and flash. But now the real challenge begins, again making the Palace a destination instead of a detour.
Gores said PS&E holdings such as DTE Energy Music Theatre — the nation’s busiest summer amphitheater — were more crucial to his decision than many have realized.
“Most of the rest of the world focused just on the Pistons, and that was the allure,” he said. “We have great businesses in these concert properties. DTE has been one of the most successful venues in the whole country, the whole world, in the way it’s performed. … That was a very important part of how we felt the value of this asset stood up.”
I know many Pistons fans wanted Mike Ilitch to take over this franchise. But his plate is filled with the Tigers and Red Wings. He would not have been able to devote enough time and energy to this franchise. The Pistons need help. The franchise does not need someone’s divided attention.
Although Gores is a Hollywood man — his Platinum Equity business is headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif. — he’s tied to Michigan, growing up in Flint and graduating from Michigan State.
“He understands,” former Pistons guard Isiah Thomas said. “He knows what this team needs.”
Thomas is glad to see someone from Michigan take over. He believes that’s important because sometimes others don’t understand what makes this area tick.
“He understands the passion and the fire of the Detroit fans,” Thomas said. “The work ethic and the foundation have been laid, and must be consistent.
“One of the things that hurt the Pistons for a period of time is when they went away from their foundation and values we laid.”
Despite the Pistons lack of recent success, (former Pistons beat writer Dean) Howe believes Gores gives Flint some bragging rights in the midst of the tough times.
“I hope he every once in a while comes up to Flint and talks to the people here and hangs around here a little bit,” Howe added. “That would be nice to go back to his roots and I’m sure a lot of people will welcome him with open arms.”
“It’s something we can hang our hats on and say that the owner of the Pistons is a Flint guy,” Howe said. “We don’t have that good amount of positive things in the city and that’s one good thing we can brag about.”
And while the front-office dynamics clearly have changed — I started replaying the movie “Office Space” in my head when Gores’ Platinum Equity partners, who’ll be “his face” in Auburn Hills we’re told, basically were introduced as “Bob and Phil” on Thursday — they all insist they share the same core values, with an emphasis on hard work.
Now we can sit here and worry that he sounded too corporate, but honestly it’s what I expected from him. We are talking about a man who has come from nothing, and made billions of dollars before he’s even hit fifty years old. If the Pistons didn’t have the Palace Sports and Entertainment package attached to it, we wouldn’t even be talking about Mr. Gores right now. That I truly believe.
Nearly an hour later, as Gores’ introductory press conference at The Palace was nearing its end, somebody asked the new owner about the need to be mistake-free in getting the Pistons back on track.
“I think we can afford mistakes,” Gores answered, politely turning the question on its ear. “Look, we’re going to make mistakes. The key is to not sit in your missteps. I want our folks and our leaders to not be afraid. Now, I don’t want you sitting with that mistake for a long time. I don’t want you to get set in whatever decisions you made. If it was wrong, the next day, change it.”
They were words Joe Dumars had heard before – from Bill Davidson. Change is coming to the Pistons. Gores left little room for misinterpretation on that score. And Dumars is ready to enjoin his new owner in making it happen.
It really all comes down to what kind of statement Tom Gores wants to make. Does he want to make a splash, as most new owners do? Does he want to be patient and build through the draft ala the Oklahoma City Thunder? Does Dumars already have several dominoes lined up and he is just waiting for the new owner to give his blessing and start pushing them over? I have no idea, but for the first time in several months at least I’m excited about what lies ahead.
I asked Dumars his first impressions of Gores and his people.
“They’re very detailed, and they ask a lot of questions, good questions,” he said. “Smart guys. Very meticulous.”
This will be different for Dumars, and we’ll see if it’s better for him. There’s a lot still to be learned. Gores is different in a lot of interesting ways. He’s taking over a storied franchise from a quiet, venerable owner, and he certainly brings a touch of Hollywood from his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.
One word Gores continued to hammer home was community and he feels Palace Sports and Entertainment is a community asset. Growing up in the Flint area and attending Michigan State University, Gores has a sense of the community and wants to bring it together.
Gores’ said his goal is to be successful both financially and in the community, and if he doesn’t succeed at both, then he considers it a failure.
Gregg Krupa, The Detroit News (seriously … was the whole DN newsroom at the Palace yesterday?):
NBA sources and observers say Gores will spend about $320 million to purchase the Pistons, the arena and the entertainment properties, which include DTE Energy Music Theater and Meadow Brook Music Festival. It is a far cry from a value that was generally agreed to be about $475 million two years ago.
The actual cost for the entire package is closer to $400 million, experts say. But some of the money will flow back to Gores, in terms of guarantees, and some dollars are “soft,” according to one source.
Villanueva didn’t want to comment on Kuester’s status.
“I’ll leave it to the big boss,” he said, shaking his head. “The big boss makes the decisions.”
Gordon didn’t speak of specific moves, but admitted the inactivity was nerve-wrecking.
“I never knew what the holdup was, I assume it was because of the ownership change,” Gordon said. “We’ll have the ability to have flexibility to make moves, and I’m looking forward to change. Whatever it takes, I’m on board for that.”