New Pistons Owner Tom Gores Aims High
AIMING HIGH: Businessman Tom Gores may be calling the shots as the new Pistons owner, but he’s indisputably a team player
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Tewfic (likely an uncommon spelling of the Arabic, Tawfik, interpreted as “fortunate” and “success” (Wikipedia), Gores, July 31, 1964, in Nazareth, Israel.
Genesee Township, Mich.
Beverly Hills, Calif. (Also a three-address waterfront compound in suburban Detroit.)
Genesee High School, class of 1982; Michigan State University bachelor’s degree in construction management, 1986.
Founded Platinum Equity, a private equity firm ranked 27th on the 2010 Forbes list of America’s Largest Private Companies, in 1995; Forbes “400 Richest People” position: No. 159.
Personal net worth:
Estimated $2.5 billion.
Holly (née Murdoch), a Grosse Ile native.
Katrina, 14; Amanda, 13; Charles, 9.
Left: Tom Gores in his junior year (1981) at Genesee High School. He also played baseball, football, and soccer. Right: Gores (No. 10) on the Genesee High School varsity boys’ basketball team, 1981.
ONE of these things is not like the other: Pro basketball. Seven-figure salaries. JumboTrons. Playing the tambourine.
Still, they all have a place in the world of new Pistons owner, aka family guy, soccer coach, and newbie studio musician, Tom Gores.
When Pistons executive Joe Dumars first met with his future boss, the conversation between the former hoops star and the incoming team owner had surprisingly little to do with the NBA, coaching decisions, or the business of professional athletics in general. As Dumars recalls, he and Gores swapped fatherhood stories while watching videos of Gores’ kids playing soccer.
“This is a very unique guy in the sense that he’s a very successful business guy, but the guy is a father and a husband, as well,” says the Hall of Famer and current president of basketball operations for the Pistons. “There’s no question that family comes first with him.”
Sports again were off the table during Gores’ first meeting with Ethan Davidson, son of longtime Pistons owner, the late William “Bill” Davidson. After a few scheduling conflicts between the two, Gores boarded his private plane and flew to Detroit to meet the younger Davidson in a Hazel Park recording studio, where the musician was laying down tracks with his band. Davidson was uneasy about meeting the billionaire buyer of his father’s sports franchise in the studio, located “down a dark alley behind a carpet store.” But any ambivalence was quickly put to rest. As he quickly learned, Gores is a pretty down-to-earth, casual guy.
“We handed him a tambourine and we told him to go to work,” Davidson says. “He jumped right in there with the band. I don’t know if we’ll ever finish this record, but if we do, he’ll be on it.”
And, no, Gores (pronounced GORE-es) didn’t come to jam in a billion-dollar suit. Fans paying attention to the changes at The Palace of Auburn Hills may remember the jeans and the white collared shirt with short sleeves that Gores sported during the Pistons home finale against the Cleveland Cavaliers. As Gores danced from the stands for the JumboTron, George Blaha, the longtime Pistons TV play-by-play announcer, introduced the team’s new owner, pronouncing his name “Gores.”
The Pistons fell to the LeBron-less Cavs in a game that — had it been played in the same arena just a few years earlier — would have been a local-celebrity studded, sell-out event. The message on the court and on the big screen was clear: There’s a changing of the guard at The Palace — and in the NBA.