Casey, Pistons response to tough times exactly what Tom Gores expected

Dwane Casey led the Pistons through adversity just as Pistons owner Tom Gores anticipated he would
Al Bello (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

DETROIT – The way the Pistons navigated choppy waters might have pleased Pistons Owner Tom Gores, but nothing about it surprised him.

Ask him if the manner in which the Pistons responded to a 9-22 stretch that resulted from a spate of injuries occurring during the most challenging portion of their schedule reinforced his faith in Dwane Casey and team leadership’s ability to handle adversity and the expected answer would be, yes, of course.

Not the Pistons owner. Not after the understanding of Casey he came to grasp during their courtship process last spring.

“I would say this: It did not reinforce it because I already had complete faith in Dwane,” Gores said Friday as the Pistons were beating the Los Angeles Lakers. “So there was nothing to reinforce. There really wasn’t. He has the demeanor to get through hard times. We discussed it before we even made our deal together. We’re lucky we got Dwane.”

In January, amid the throes of their worst stretch of the season, Gores hosted the Pistons at his Platinum Equity headquarters while they were in Los Angeles to play the Lakers and Clippers. His message to them was much the same as Casey’s daily mantra about building good habits, day by day, step by step.

“I wouldn’t give myself that much credit, to be honest,” Gores said. “All I said to them is, ‘You’ve got to work through the whole process. You have a good man in Dwane Casey. You guys are competitors, so stick to it and believe in yourself.’ I just gave them what I had in my life, which is a lot of hard times.”

Gores also got to see his recast front office handle the trade deadline and manage to serve two ends – find complementary fits to bolster a playoff run while improving the outlook for next season and beyond by getting two players, Thon Maker and Svi Mykhailiuk, on rookie contracts in addition to a future draft pick for two players, Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson, about to hit free agency.

“I think they did a great job,” Gores said of the Pistons executive team, led by Ed Stefanski. “We did not succumb to the idea that we’re just going to lose and not get in the playoffs, because we were pretty clear. We want to have that winning culture, so they did a good job. Even at the end of it where we got Wayne Ellington. Arn (Tellem, Pistons vice chairman and Ellington’s former agent) did a great job recruiting him. I talked to Wayne myself. Blake (Griffin) talked to Wayne. We didn’t give up on the idea of winning and we got him. I think they did a great job with it.”

What Gores envisioned under Casey moves the Pistons closer to where he wants to take them. At the heart of it is the mission he enunciated when he bought the franchise in June 2011: to build a championship contending team that would inspire Detroit and beyond.

“We want to be in the playoffs,” said Gores, who hosted a group of over 50 youth from Flint at Friday’s game, continuing his ongoing support of his hometown. “You’ve got to have an attitude about winning. You have to have a winning culture. You build a family, you build a business, you build a team. We’re doing great things for the city.”

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