Tom Gores: ‘Proud of the Effort’

Pistons owner sets playoffs as goal for 2012-13

Tom Gores emphasized that merely winning wouldn’t fulfill his expectations for the Pistons when he bought the franchise last year. It was just as important to win the right way. The Pistons didn’t win as much as he might have liked in his first season of ownership, but he’s satisfied they’re getting that “doing things the right way” part of the equation down just fine – and confident that winning will follow, setting the playoffs as a goal for next season.

“I’m proud of the effort,” he said before the Pistons wrapped up the 2011-12 season by hosting Philadelphia at The Palace. “We started four and 20. That’s not an easy start. But I’m proud of the fact they came back. They worked hard. They did all the things Detroit stands for – hard work. The culture was reset this year.”

He’ll sit down with Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank in the coming days to discuss the future, but the discussions have been frequent and ongoing since Gores took over in June 2011. Free-flowing communication is one of the tenets of his widespread business empire and he found dealing with both his team president and first-year head coach on that level was everything he could have hoped.

“I can call Joe any time; Joe calls me any time,” he said. “Joe and Lawrence, they’re talking every day. Part of our culture is to make sure communication is open and that you’re always speaking. When you talk and you communicate, good things happen. You can’t even predict what is going to happen, but if you are really going to reset the culture, there is no barrier between the coach and the GM and the owner. We have open communication.”

The 4-20 start surprised him, he said. He expected, after observing the groundwork Frank laid before training camp opened, that his impact would be immediate. But he learned quickly that improvement comes grudgingly in the world’s most competitive basketball league.

“I thought that the energy of the culture that we were going to reinstill would get us winning games right away,” he said. “Lawrence came in, who’s a tremendous coach, tremendous person, and it just took time to establish ourselves. It just takes time. This is a very physical, complex business and it’s not easy to succeed.”

The owner doesn’t believe wholesale change or major talent is needed to spur a leap forward next season, either. He’s open to anything, but he came to look at the roster in a new light over the course of the season.

“One of the things that I realized this year is we have great players on the team,” he said. “I’m not sure it requires any moves to make the playoffs.”

That’s next season’s expectation, Gores said.

“I think we better make the playoffs,” he said. “That’s realistic.

“We want to win. At the end of the day, I want us to be the best. I’m not here to not be the best. Moving forward, yes, we need to make some moves. The players that are going to be here are going to be players that want to be in Detroit. We established ourselves this year – work ethic, toughness. Everybody wants to win. The community needs to win. That’s what we’re striving for. As much as I’m happy with the season and I’m happy with the effort, we have to get better.”

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