Why Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spent a day as a member of the Detroit Pistons coaching staff

Governor Gretchen Whitmer listens at the Pistons Performance Center
The Governor's visit was part of an initiative to work for a day at various Michigan businesses.
Pistons Photo
by Vince Ellis
Special for Pistons.com

A guest coach helped the Detroit Pistons coaching staff in a recent workout for the franchise’s younger players.

As part of an initiative to work for a day at various Michigan businesses, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stood with Pistons coach Dwane Casey and other members of the coaching staff as Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Saben Lee and others worked on their games a few days before the Pistons used the No. 1 pick to select Cade Cunningham in the NBA Draft.

When it came time for shooting drills, Whitmer was there to deliver passes to players coming around screens.

When asked for a scouting report, Hayes lauded Whitmer’s presence.

“Ball-handling is on point, passing is on point,” Hayes said. “Even in the training room, she helped me with my ankle. So she did a great job today.”

Casey added: “Gov. Whitmer is a team player. She relates well to everybody. And that's what we need in our state, in our country is someone who can unite, relate and understand people. That's what it's all about. I think she's the person to help us bring our state together and in turn our country. I just want to thank her for coming by here because we're both on a mission. The Pistons, we're on a mission.”

“When she gets tired of being the governor, she can come in and be a part of our staff and take my job.”

Whitmer spoke briefly with reporters on several topics after the workout.

(Answers have been edited for length and clarity).

Question: How much basketball experience did you have to have going into today?

Whitmer: I played a little bit in high school, but not much since which showed. But just in terms of the strength training and getting an opportunity to see them working, just getting warmed up for conditioning was I think just an affirmation of how much commitment is really involved and on the players behalf to make sure that they're ready and on the team's behalf to make sure that they've got the support they need.

Q: Did you have any reference point for what this would be like?

Whitmer: I wasn't sure what to expect. I've been through here on a quick tour, but I didn't really get a chance to take it all in. I mean, the vision for what they created here in Detroit is, it's really spectacular. And I think that this is going to really show incredible growth opportunities for the city and for the players and for all the spectators and residents of Detroit and Michigan. I think listening to kind of what the philosophy is about bringing the team and the management altogether under one roof is really important.

Q: What is the goal of spending a day with Michigan companies?

Whitmer: I think it is Important to get out and about. This last year has been really isolating. You add COVID on top of everything else, it’s getting an opportunity to engage, to see people in their different workplaces. I try to do everything in my role to support and to encourage growth in business of all types. Michigan is something that is a driving force for the work that I'm doing as governor.

Q: You once dreamed of a sports broadcasting career?

Whitmer: I thought I was going to be one of you, and well I fell short. (laughter) I love sports, and it's something that I was really interested in, but I did an internship at the Capitol and kind of fell in love with public policy.


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