Davidson: Hall of Famer

Pistons owner inducted into basketball shrine on second attempt

William Davidson was the majority owner of the Pistons from 1974 to 2009.
Steve Freeman
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The Pistons didn’t win their first NBA title until their second visit to the NBA Finals, so it seems perfectly fitting that franchise owner William Davidson gained entry to the Basketball Hall of Fame on his second chance as a finalist.

Davidson was named as one of seven members of the Hall of Fame’s class of 2008 on Monday when the announcement was made at the site of this year’s NCAA Final Four in San Antonio.

Two others from among the Hall’s newest members have ties to the Pistons: Dick Vitale, who coached the team in 1978-79 and for the first 12 games of the following season but is best known for his work as an ESPN commentator; and Adrian Dantley, who spent 2½ seasons with the Pistons in the ’80s before being traded to Dallas for Mark Aguirre during the 1988-89 championship season.

They, too, had been finalists before – Vitale twice and Dantley six times.

The four other members of the Hall of Fame class are NBA greats Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, longtime NBA coach and former player Pat Riley, and women’s college coaching great Cathy Rush.

Davidson, like Vitale, goes in as a “contributor” for not only his three-plus decades as Pistons owner – in addition to owning the WNBA’s Detroit Shock – but also for his work on the NBA’s board of governors and his groundbreaking contributions, including his private funding of The Palace of Auburn Hills, the building that revolutionized NBA arenas for its strategic placement of suites as a major source of revenue generation, and his furnishing of a private team plane to make travel more convenient and give the NBA greater scheduling flexibility.

Davidson was a major supporter of David Stern’s candidacy for NBA commissioner and has been credited by Stern with being a mentor and guiding influence.

“I would say not only has he been there to support me,” Stern said when discussing Davidson’s Hall of Fame candidacy with Pistons.com, “but there to advise and counsel me. He will call and check in and ask how he can be helpful. He’s a sounding board with respect to every issue we have. He adds international business experience and his important judgment and he’s accepted appointments on every committee on which he’s been asked to serve. He’s been there from the very beginning.”

To be elected to the Hall of Fame, a finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee. The class of 2008’s enshrinement will occur Sept. 4-6 at the site of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.