‘We Have to Get Better’

Tom Gores eager for season ahead with ‘young, exciting’ Pistons

Tom Gores sees clear signs of growth in the developing Pistons.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
Tom Gores says his job is to be the impatient owner obligated to deliver championships, but he isn’t necessarily demanding overnight shipment.

“The first standard is to grow, to make progress” the Pistons owner said before tipoff of Wednesday’s season opener. “That’s the very first standard that we have. We would like to make the playoffs and I expect that, but there’s no ultimatum. There’s no ultimatum that says you have to make the playoffs or you’re gone. We don’t work that way.

“The ultimatum is we have to get better. We have to work hard. We have to show progress. I have to be a better owner, Lawrence has to be a better coach, Joe’s got to be a better GM. Life is about improving, every day.”

Gores said he’s learned since taking ownership of the team in June 2011 that a significant investment of time is required to see that his vision is implemented and that everyone is on the same page.

“This whole thing about being a new owner is it takes a lot of time,” he said. “It’s not just about being at the games. It’s really about being present all year. I spent some time this summer with Andre (Drummond) and Brandon (Knight) and Greg (Monroe), but my job is to be present in a way that’s impactful, not just to be seen at the games. I don’t know how much you’re going to see me – 10, 20 games, 40? I don’t know. I can tell you my impact will be felt every single day.”

Gores confirmed that the vow he made when he bought the team – to lose sleep over driving the Pistons back to the top – has been realized.

“I dreamt about it all last night – first game of the season – I dreamt about it,” he said. “I lost sleep, literally. I’m committed to this community.”

Gores acknowledged the reality that a new arena might be built someday in downtown Detroit and didn’t rule out a move there if he felt it was what was needed to move the franchise forward, but emphasized his belief that The Palace is still a showplace worthy of housing the Pistons.

“This is an incredible stadium,” he said. “I was at the owners meetings last week and all the owners were talking about it, how state of the art this stadium is.

“We put capital into this beautiful stadium to make it a better experience for our fans. We’re doing all the business stuff we can do and then we have to deliver at the team level. We’re really doing all the important things at The Palace to make sure the fan experience is correct. We’re committed to doing that. Any time anybody shows up here, we have to deliver a good experience.”

In his daily consultations with Joe Dumars, Lawrence Frank and the management team he’s put in place at The Palace, longtime trusted associates Bob Wentworth and Phil Norment, Gores is encouraged by the track he sees the franchise on.

“I see this team working together,” he said. “When I say progress, I mean a sports team needs to have chemistry, needs to understand the values. I’ve seen tremendous progress, actually, with this team. They have teamwork. It’s not about individuals. It’s about them coming together.

“Now, the ultimate progress is we have to win. But we have to operate as a team. The energy has to be correct. The chemistry has to be correct. That’s what I’m looking for. This is a very young team that we have, an exciting team. I’m excited to watch them tonight.”