A Party for Detroit

Gores launches ownership vowing to ‘do the right things every day’

The Gores era represents a new time for the Pistons, their fans and Michigan.
D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Tom Gores promised a party, one that celebrates more than the launching of his era of Pistons ownership.

“We’ve got a good party tonight,” he said minutes before tipoff of the 2011-12 Pistons home opener against Cleveland. “Tonight is about celebrating Detroit and its comeback. That’s what we’re doing – we’re coming back. And we all feel it in our hearts. I know I do. This has been on my mind for a long time. I feel I have been trained for this my whole life. I grew up in sports; I grew up in Michigan. I feel like I am so ready for this challenge to help Detroit come back.”

The Pistons’ role in that? Doing the right things every day to build an organization that not just wins, but inspires.

Since Gores assumed ownership in June, he’s brought in president Dennis Mannion, with a rich background across all four major professional sports, and worked in tandem with Joe Dumars to hire Lawrence Frank. Gores said as the process of the sale neared completion that his first task was to learn as much about the organization, top to bottom, as he could and then take swift, decision action.

“I’ve been very present with the team,” he said. “I saw them yesterday, but we have great leaders. If you look at my mark, you bring Lawrence Frank in – great guy, fundamentals. You bring Dennis Mannion in, who’s run many sports teams in his life and knows what the standard is. Then you keep Joe Dumars. Joe’s a real guy who understands the Pistons’ principles. He understands them. He understands them a lot. That’s the mark.”

“I want to win the right way. So winning is an important part of all of this, but I need to win the right way. We need to win the right way and the team knows it. The right way is hard work, respect with each other, do the right things every day. Don’t worry about the result. Do the right things every day.”

Gores’ base of operation remains Los Angeles, where his private equity firm, Platinum Equity, is headquartered. But his ties to Michigan run deep – a Michigan State graduate, he still has family in the Flint area and his in-laws are from Grosse Ile – and those ties were a compelling factor in his decision to buy the Pistons and not only help restore them to the NBA elite but help spark a Detroit comeback.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “I talked to them yesterday and let them know that I was excited about owning the team, but I want this to be an exciting place to be. I want Detroit to be an exciting place to be and I think we have the beginnings of that. Because in Detroit, we have some of the best people in the world. I’m grateful to be here and be a part of the city.”

And even if he can’t be present for every home game, his presence will be felt.

“Tom’s very, very active,” Frank said. “We’re in constant touch. With (Platinum executives) Bob Wentworth and Phil Norment, they’re very, very involved. If we don’t see one of them, we talk to one of them and it’s a very good partnership. … Tom’s a regular guy, self-made from the streets of Flint. The opportunity to come back home and be able to own your hometown team, he’s the great success story.”

“I’ll be present throughout the whole year,” Gores said, “and not just the 41 games up here. That’s the plan. The power is going to be on the court and this team will play with pride and respect. They will play. I’m very excited about it. I think this is a rallying point for Detroit.”