Joe D: New Owner ‘Absolutely Great’

Gores’ commitment gives Pistons morale boost, Dumars says

Joe Dumars and the Pistons have found strong support from Tom Gores.
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Players who’ve been through the crucible of repeated playoff clashes hold no secrets. Their souls are laid bare. Joe Dumars and Michael Jordan went at it over four epic playoff series from 1988-91, as the Bad Boys were ascending, reigning and coming down the other side, giving rise to the Bulls dynasty that ruled the NBA for much of the ’90s.

So when they talk today – unless they’re holding cards close to the vest in draft or trade matters – there is no pulling punches.

When the Pistons played at Charlotte earlier this month, Jordan asked Dumars for the scoop on new Pistons owner Tom Gores and his team.

“Michael and I were talking out in the parking lot after the game and he asked, ‘How are those guys? I met them at the Board of Governors and they seemed like some good guys,’ ” Dumars said. “I said, ‘They’ve been great. You know, I’m really fortunate to have those guys, because you never know how ownership is going to turn out. It could not have turned out better, for myself and for all of us.’ ”

Gores has spoken of his mission to not only restore the Pistons to NBA elite, but to use his ownership of the franchise to do good in Detroit and beyond. It’s a vision that will manifest itself in multiple ways over time, with the “Come Together” program recently announced one of the most visible signs of Gores’ commitment to community so far.

On the basketball side, much of the impact of new ownership has manifested in ways unseen by fans but deeply felt and appreciated by players, management and staff – things like the $3 million upgrade to the locker room and a laundry list of improvements made to the team’s practice facility that not only increase comfort but improve conditions for training and treatment.

“It’s been absolutely great,” Dumars said of the impact on morale after tough times brought on by the limbo status the Pistons were thrust into once former owner Karen Davidson announced intentions to sell. “It’s had a huge impact, not only on the players but on everybody in the organization. Just in terms of showing that type of commitment of, ‘Listen, what do you need here to be successful?’ Those are the type questions they asked. ‘Is this going to help us? How is this going to helps us?’ Those are the things you want from ownership. You want them to be engaged. You want them to provide you with whatever resources you need to be successful and you want that kind of moral support to back it up and they’ve done all of it.”

A critical factor for Dumars in determining how to proceed with the rebuilding of the Pistons was spelling out the options to ownership and gauging their preferences. Did ownership want to gamble on short-term solutions or take a more slow-and-steady approach?

“They’re totally on board with rebuilding this the right way,” Dumars said. “Of course, we want to win. We want to win as much as we possibly can, but these guys have been absolutely great to work with. They really have. They understand it’s going to take time to build it and what they’ve said is it’s not unlike when they buy distressed companies and have to rebuild them. They know it doesn’t happen overnight. The synergy of that – knowing how to build companies – that parallels with how to build a team. They totally get it.”

Gores spoke at his introductory press conference in early June that he was interested in value – creating value, not buying it. In the NBA, the surest way to create value is to spend hard-won lottery picks wisely. Dumars has come away with Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight in his two trips to the lottery, moves that have quickly created considerable value for the Pistons. Those players represent huge steps in rebuilding the right way. A few more moves like them and maybe those epic playoff series Joe D and Michael Jordan once knew will again be springtime staples at The Palace.