By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – At the Bad Boys Unite Charity Event on Thursday night, Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores reminisced about what those championship teams meant to him, a Michigan native, and he shared his vision of the franchise returning to those heights. The “Bad Boys” teams won championships in 1989 and 1990.
Headed for a fifth straight year of missing the playoffs, the current Pistons team has continued to falter despite the firing of Lawrence Frank, the hiring (and firing) of Maurice Cheeks, and splashy acquisitions in the summer. Gores himself has come under criticism, too, often pegged as a disinterested owner because he lives in Los Angeles.
“Sometimes they’re hard to hear, but we’re going to stay the course,” Gores said. “We’re going back to championship days. There’s only one choice for us. That’s it. We’re going back there, so is it hard to hear sometimes? Sure, because I don’t want to disappoint the community. I want the community to be proud, and that’s where we’re headed. It’s just a matter of time.
“I’m all in, so of course [this event] makes me feel it more and more, but I’m all in,” Gores added. “I think what this city always wants is a championship. This city’s about hard work and getting to the top. And these guys, I think the biggest celebration we can give the Bad Boys is to have a championship.”
Gores declined to discuss the future of Pistons general manager Joe Dumars, interim head coach John Loyer or what other offseason moves might be made soon.
“End of the season, like we always do, we’re going to reevaluate,” Gores said, “but tonight I think it’s really about this team and giving them the credit that they deserve.”
The owner talked much more happily about the illustrious past of the Pistons, and getting to celebrate with players he watched growing up, including Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley and Rick Mahorn.
“My recollection of the Bad Boys is the values they gave to the city, the hard work, the dedication, it just reminded me everything I grew up with,” Gores said. “It’s kind of surreal seeing all the guys and what it took and what the Bad Boys have meant to the city is pretty incredible.”
“My whole experience growing up in Michigan and the people in Michigan influenced [my decision to buy the team],”
Gores continued. “I know the fans, I know the people. They are dedicated, they are real, sometimes they can be tough on you, but they are real. They will be there for you through thick and thin, and of course having experienced it, it gave me a little more passion and understanding of what this community was about.”
Despite living in Los Angeles, Gores maintains he is completely connected with the Detroit fan base.
“I understand the fan base – well,” Gores said. “I grew up with it. It’s in my blood. Trust me.”
The owner said the team can draw on the championship tradition of the Bad Boys to improve now.
“The Bad Boys are going to help us bridge all the things they meant,” Gores said. “Hard work, dedication, teamwork, that mentality that you do care about people but you’re tough. That’s going to bridge over. We’re not a fancy city here, but we’re a real city, and I would put Detroit people, Michigan people against anybody in the world, so we’re going to bridge over from what they meant, and we’re going to get to the place we need to be.”