I love Michigan State University with all my heart. I am an unapologetic slappy for my alma mater. I proudly display my degree in my apartment, speak of Tom Izzo as if he were Zeus, am a proud owner of a Spartan snuggie, and despise anything that combines the colors Maize and Blue. (Just call it yellow, you're not impressing anyone with your technical terms.)
What could be better; a self-made billionaire, from my school, owning my favorite team! Yahtzee!
While sitting on cloud nine thinking about this Spartan-Piston fantasy team, reality started to set in. Is this really the best move for my team? Is it good for the fans? Most importantly, is it right for the state of Michigan? Sadly, the answer is no.
Gores is a native of Flint but now lives among the stars in California. I picture him as a blend of Ari Gold and Hank Moody, part ruthless entrepreneur, part playboy (not a bad mascot if Vegas ever gets a team). I have no idea if this is true, but to some extent isn't that every California Billionaire?
That lifestyle and personality may be good for a reality show, but it's not right for an NBA owner. See Mark Cuban. Immensely entertaining, zero Rings.
It's likely Gores sees the Pistons as another investment. A way to rub elbows with some of the world's best athletes, maybe get an occasional appearance on PTI, and cash in down the road.
The Pistons are way more than another line on someones financial portfolio. They are a night out for the family, a head-nod and smile while commuting down Woodward when you see another driver with the team flag latched to the rear-window, and the Bad Boys persona that identifies perfectly with its rugged, working class fans.
There is only one person who has consistently proven he understands building Detroit teams based on that identity. Mike Ilitch.
Detroit is in Ilitch's blood.
He's also been a pivotal figure in trying to rejuvenate the struggling downtown. His renovation of the Fox Theater helped spark life into an otherwise downtrodden area.
Not to mention what he has done with the Wings and Tigers. The Red Wings were an afterthought when he bought them in the early '80s, now, its arguably the most respected franchise in the NHL.
What Ilitch has done with the Tigers is equally impressive. The old english D stood for Disaster for years. The team made the bottom of the standings its annual home. And their actual home, Tigers Stadium, was a literal representation of a crumbling city.
Mr. Ilitch took intiative. He spent $350-million to build Comerica Park, which is widely considered one of the best baseball stadiums in the league. He was able to attract the MLB All-Star game and after 13-straight losing seasons, fought and clawed to put a contending team on the field.
Magglio Ordonez drilled the walk-off home run in the 2006 ALCS. That play and entire Tigers season united a city with Mike Ilitch as the architect to success.
Detroit needs Ilitch to play Noah one more time and construct an arc that will keep the team and city afloat.
Karen Davidson, the Pistons current owner, needs to realize this quickly. Apparently the two sides had a falling out and couldn't agree on a price tag, which opened the door for Gores. Davidson's late husband, William, was as good of an owner as there was in the NBA before he passed away. He put the team and fans first. His widow needs to take a page out of his book and think about more than just money.
Ilitch said he wants to build a dual stadium downtown for the Pistons and Red Wings. That's nothing but good news.
Joe Louis Arena is in desperate need of an upgrade and moving the Pistons from Auburn Hills would put all four sports teams in Detroit. That would make the area even more attractive. A revitalized Detroit, results in a revitalized Michigan.
The Pistons also are one of the most profitable teams in the NBA when they put together a roster that doesn't consists of 11-shooting guards. Fans will come out and support them.
From a purely sports perspective, let's be honest, the Pistons stink right now. Ilitch is 2-0 on turning terrible franchises around. There is no reason to believe he can't go 3-0.
Maybe Gores can do it, too. Spartans are winners, so maybe. But in a time when the Pistons and Motor City need something to get revved up about, I want a sure thing.
Ilitch is the safest bet.