Steve Coleman still exudes passion for Palace Patrol 17 years later
The year was 1994 when Steve Coleman read that the Pistons were looking for people to join a new crowd-interactive team, the Palace Knights.
“I jumped at the chance to perform, plus it was an opportunity to grow as a professional,” Coleman recalls. “I have always been a very optimistic person, so I was pleased when I was selected to join the team.”
Seventeen years and one NBA title later, Coleman is the only remaining original member of the team – now known as the Palace Patrol – responsible for entertaining fans during games. Attend any game and you’ll see Palace Patrol members holding up signs, leading cheers and chances, giving our high fives, making balloons, delivering pizzas and – if you’re really lucky – handing you an enormous winning lottery ticket.
“Wow!” Coleman said when recalling the Palace Patrol’s inaugural season. “All of the people who were accepted were very excited. We were trained to blow up balloons, learned how to work different props and roll and shoot T-shirts. We flew to Florida for training camp and got to meet some great people from across the country. It was an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.”
A lot has changed since then.
“We have grown in many ways by developing new ways to interact with the fans,” Coleman said. “We are using more Palace Patrol members per game to keep the fans involved. We used to wear full body overalls, but now we were Pistons sweat suits. Every year with the Palace Patrol has a new set of challenges. As with any job, you must work hard and be able to adjust with the company. I would say my years as a Palace Patrol member were very helpful in teaching me how to work well with others.”
Why stay with Palace Patrol for 17 years?
“The Palace Patrol is like my baby,” Coleman said. “It is very important to me that we keep the legacy going by continuing to put smiles on faces. The fans depend on us to keep the morale high whether the team is up or down. Being one of the original members, I am able to instill in the new members all of the original standards that the Palace Patrol was built on, such as being able to do balloon sculpting and launching T-shirts. The secret to my success on Palace Patrol has been the ability to share my experiences with new members.”
Despite the many historic events that have occurred during Coleman’s Palace Patrol tenure, his most cherished memories involve fan interaction.
“I was wearing the backpack (with hoop attached) and there was this kid who was positive that he could not make a shot,” Coleman said. “His parents said, ‘No thanks,’ but I was insisting that he try. To make a long story short, he took a shot and made it. The entire place went crazy because the little boy was blind. I was happy for the kid that was able to overcome that challenge. I’ll never forget that.”
Performing is a lifelong passion for Coleman, who manages and sings in QTMC Music Group, which uses music to educate both kids and adults about drugs, violence and peer pressure. Since 2006, Coleman has also been an assistant tour manager, emcee and announcer for the Harlem Globetrotters.
After almost two decades of Palace Patrol duty, Coleman sees no end in sight.
“My future plans are always to bring joy to every game, allowing the fans to have a good experience,” he said. “I’ll always be around to train new members. I would like to thank the Pistons organization for giving me the opportunity to work in such a professional environment. It means a lot to be part of the Pistons family. I am honored to work with this organization and I am dedicated to continuing the legacy.”