PistonPolitics: Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer have both been recruited to run for political office

I tried to get Dan Feldman to let me do political endorsements on PistonPowered today, but probably the only thing I’m more ignorant about than basketball analysis is political analysis. So in lieu of that, here are a few Pistons connections to the political world.

Joe Dumars’ reputation has taken some hits in recent years as the luster of building a championship team from scratch becomes a distant memory with every DNP-CD sustained by prized 2009 signing Charlie Villanueva. But putting aside those recent criticisms, at one time, there was no GM in the NBA or maybe even in sports who was as highly regarded as Dumars. His rep was so pristine that the state Democratic party tried to recruit him when they were looking for a big name candidate in 2010:

Statewide political analyst Tim Skubick, whose work appears in a number of media outlets, says if one-time Piston shooting guard Dave Bing can be mayor of Detroit, then there’s no reason that another Piston shooting guard — Joe Dumars — can’t be governor of Michigan.

“Stack him up against the want ad and you have a potential blockbuster of a candidate that would not only set this town on its ear, but produce enough buzz to give the D’s a better than even chance to hang onto the governor’s chair,” Skubick writes in a blog for The Oakland Press.

He writes that since Lt. Gov. John Cherry dropped out of the race, the Democrats need a big name to possibly swing the state’s vote.

“There are some people in the Democratic Party who say that this is not an act of desperation,” Skubick told Fox 2 this morning.

As far-fetched as that scenario sounded — Dumars had never publicly even expressed support for one party or the other — that story picked up enough steam that Dumars actually had to issue a ‘thanks but no thanks’ statement to quell the rumors.

He wasn’t the only Bad Boy to get recruited though. The Republicans reportedly wanted Bill Laimbeer to run for office in 1998:

Former basketball bad boy Bill Laimbeer says politics is too rough and mean for him, so he’s rebuffing efforts to recruit him as a Republican congressional candidate.

Laimbeer, a member of the Detroit Pistons from 1981-94 and member of its championship teams in 1989 and 1990, owns a packaging business.

Laimbeer, 40, has attended the party’s national convention and helped raise money for Republican U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham.

State Republican spokesman Greg McNeilly said party leaders were trying to recruit Laimbeer to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee.

I’ve lived much of my life in Kildee’s district, and it has never been a competitive one (Dale didn’t seek re-election this term, but his nephew, Dan Kildee, is likely to win his seat). It would’ve been really interesting to see Laimbeer run. He definitely would’ve been the most intriguing challenger Kildee had, at least in my lifetime.

John Salley also talked about Laimbeer’s staunch political beliefs to the Chicago Tribune in 1996:

Both see some basic similarities in the fiber of those Pistons and these Bulls.

“Off the court, everybody likes one another on this team,” Salley said. “Everybody gets along. With Detroit, whatever differences we had, it didn’t matter.

“We had a couple of Democrats and one big Republican, Bill Laimbeer, and different lifestyles. But when we got on the court, we all wanted the same lifestyle. We all wanted the same attitude. It was all about chemistry.”

More recently, former Piston Chauncey Billups was a major, vocal supporter of then-Senator Obama during the 2008 election. My friend and friend of the blog Pardeep Toor once interviewed Billups about why he got involved in the campaign:

 “Obviously, I’ve been blessed enough where I’m not in the middle class anymore but all of my family is, all of my peoples is. I was middle to lower class coming up,” Billups said. “That’s who I’m fighting for not for me, I’ve been blessed enough, I’m fighting for everybody else in the neighborhoods.”

And of course, living in Michigan, we all know the most obvious example, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. We won’t get into all the problems Mayor Bing has on his plate right now though.

At any rate, consider this your reminder to vote today, if you’re into that sort of thing. Oh, and I’m not one of those people who gets all riled about mixing sports and politics. I love it when they mix. So feel free to post all of your crazy political diatribes in this thread. In fact, the crazier the better.

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