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Tom Gores delivers a message, not a show – and that shows he’s ready

The decision to hold Tom Gores’ introductory press conference at The Palace instead of the Pistons’ practice facility surprised me a bit. Then, the ostentatious setup for the event – turning off the lights around the arena, tinting the stage at center court with a blue light and lowering the banners to flank a large TV screen – took my wonderment to another level. When I saw the Pistons hats adorned with what’s apparently Gores’ motto – BE IMPACTFUL –  that were given to everyone in attendance, I thought I had it all figured out.

This wasn’t going to be a press conference. It was going to be a show.

Midway through the video that featured Gores quotes over Pistons highlights followed by several friends and associates praising him, I was certain I was right. It all certainly seemed IMPACTFUL, if not over the top.

Then, Gores took the microphone.

He was impactful, alright. But it wasn’t a show.

Gores dressed nicely – wearing a black pinstripe suit with a with a dark blue pocket square, a Pistons pin and barely buttoned white shirt with no tie – but his outfit wasn’t extravagant. He spoke well, but he didn’t possess the rhythm and grace of a great orator. He told jokes, but they didn’t all land.

It wasn’t a show. Gores didn’t take advantage of any tricks to dazzle and captivate his audience. He just spoke about his message, and that was enough to impress.

Of course, the new owner didn’t say much about any specific plans on his first day in charge, but he still spoke about a couple personnel issues.

Gores hinted more basketball people could join the front office, but he said Joe Dumars will remain in his current role of President of Basketball Operations.

“Yes, of course,” Gores said.

“Joe and I are getting to know each other. We agree on core values. We’ll see. We’re going to have to fight it out. We’re going to have to fight it out. Joe’s ready, and I’m ready.

“Our job isn’t to agree with Joe. Our job is to challenge Joe. Hopefully, that will make the outcome better.”

I don’t suspect Gores will have to challenge Dumars on a coaching change. Anyone can see John Kuester, who holds a career 57-107 record, should be fired. Asked about Kuester’s future with the Pistons, Gores indicated it may be limited to one more task.

“I haven’t had a meeting with Coach Kuester,” said Gores, who pronounced the coach’s name, Kooster. “I need to provide him the courtesy of that meeting.”

The current players in attendance – Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanuevalaughed at Gores’ gaffe, according to Ryan Slocum of ABC 12. They’ll sure be pleased when Kuester gets fired, but how many of them will remain? Gores walked the line between praising the Pistons’ base of players and expressing a need to upgrade the roster.

I’m not entirely sure Gores knew the implications of of his twice-stated support of practice – “It’s hard work. You go to practice.” “You have to practice” – but I hope the players who want to stay in Detroit heard the message. For those who want out, maybe Dumars can accommodate them now.

The process of making those decision will begin tomorrow. Gores said the sale’s close was moved up from June 30, so he could begin making moves sooner. As Gores said when he changed microphones after his first didn’t work, “Gotta adjust, right?”

David Stern clearly realized Gores needed to begin what will surely be a substantial rebuild. Gores realizes that, too, and he didn’t make any grand promises. He admitted he and his people will make mistakes, which particularly impressed me. I’m sure there will be missteps with all the tasks at hand.

Two of Gores’ partners, Phil Norment and Bob Wentworth, joined him at today’s press conference, and they’ll be involved in running the organization. They’re both based in Boston, and it will obviously take time for them to integrate into the workflow – or perhaps, for current employees to adjust into Norment’s and Wentworth’s system.

Gores must also convert his kids from Lakers fans to Pistons fans. It will be good practice. There are plenty of Michiganders who need to be (re-)converted into Pistons fans. He said his son now rates the Pistons as one of his top-four favorite teams.

“We’re making a lot of progress on that front,” said Gores, who admitted he “used to be” a Lakers fan.

The California resident doesn’t sound like someone who’s bought into the Lakers’ star culture, though. Asked about his Pistons memories growing up, he singled out Vinnie Johnson and praised The Microwave for being an ideal role player. At one point, Gores called himself a team player.

I was glad to see so much substance from Gores.

He was humble. “I don’t fly solo.”

He was excited. “It’s overwhelming. … I’m ready for it.”

He was accountable. “We need to deliver on the standards of your passion … I promise I will lose sleep to deliver to the standards.”

Gores could’ve coasted on style today, but in the long run, only substance will make the Pistons’ successful. He appears up for the challenge.

“Starting tomorrow, we’re going to go full speed ahead,” Gore said.

Finally, the Pistons are churning.

10 Comments

  • Jun 2, 20119:37 pm
    by Vince

    Reply

    This is a comment I found on ESPN.com regarding what the Pistons should do, thought it was funny and quite relevant:

    “1. Fire Head Turtle in charge aka John Kuester 
    2. Trade Rip/Ben Gordon for 1st round draft pick next year and some PG from the Wolves 
    3. Let Prince takes his talents to South LA 
    4. Stop thinking Rodney Stuckey is the next Dwyane Wade 
    5. Draft Keith Benson at #33 
    6. Draft a PG in the 2011 NBA draft 
    7. Trade Charlie Villanueva for a box of chocolates 
    8. Hire a coach that doesn’t cry himself to sleep if a player doesn’t listen to him or benches their best players”

    Seriously though, I don’y object to any of these.

  • Jun 2, 201110:16 pm
    by BIG MARV

    Reply

    Let the fire sale begin! sound like BLACK FRIDAY to me

  • Jun 2, 201110:48 pm
    by rob

    Reply

    I thought the comment about the Microwave accepting his role as 6th man for the better of the team was a hint of his feelings towards Rip refusing to come off the bench.

  • Jun 2, 201111:45 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    i must admit that i am very impressed with the way Gores has handle himself. I think as long as he is willing to spend money and work closely with Joe then most of us will be happy that he bought the pistons. I hope he has a killer and competitive instinct to win and bring some start players here.

  • Jun 3, 20116:52 am
    by Eric

    Reply

    4. Stop thinking Rodney Stuckey is the next Dwyane Wade

    I disagree with this, Wade isn’t playing PG, bad comparison.

    7. Trade Charlie Villanueva for a box of chocolates

    I disagree with this as well, he hasn’t been good defensively, but he still has value, and to think Joe D would trade him for nothing isn’t going to happen.

    • Jun 3, 20118:23 am
      by Joe Dumars

      Reply

      Yeah i reckon we could at least get a box of chocolates, a packet of skittles and a twinkie!

    • Jun 3, 201110:28 am
      by Laser

      Reply

      1) wade started out at PG for the heat.
       
      2) there are enough superficial similarities between the two that even if you put them into separate boxes in terms of position, the spirit of the bullet point is still valid. dumars gambled big time on stuckey becoming a superstar, and it was probably his greatest mistake as a GM, single-handedly starting the domino effect that brought this team from elite to excrement. there comes a time to cut one’s losses, and if joe is still looking at stuckey like a future all-star, we’re all in big BIG trouble.

  • Jun 3, 201110:41 am
    by Laser

    Reply

    i know i’m just going to look like a malcontent/contrarian here, but i was a bit underwhelmed. the overriding thought i had was that he didn’t seem to know what he was doing. between the vagaries, mispronouncing kueter’s name, and his emphasis on a synthesis of all the entertainment properties (whatever that meant), i didn’t get the impression he had any real ideas about what to do with this team aside from leaning on joe and his experience (which makes me shudder a little).
     
    not sure what i was expecting, but given what a long and drawn-out process this has been, i sort of wanted to hear a leadership voice that didn’t just sound like regurgitated meaningless tripe the organization has been throwing our way for years. “hard work and practice bla bla bla.” all the hard work and practice in the world won’t do this roster any good, and it’s important to know that. i would have much preferred to hear cliches like “toughness and defense,” because those are concrete ideas i can get behind, and they reflect that significant roster change is necessary (which it is). speaking of which, i would have liked a clearer indication that there will be some deck-clearing soon. i mean, it seems obvious enough that. that stuff would have gotten me excited and made me think the man was ready and had a plan.
     
    again, not sure what i expected, but i got the distinct impression that gores didn’t know very much about the team or what he was going to do with it. he gave a few good answers to important questions, but i think the presser lowered my confidence at least a little.

    • Jun 3, 201110:55 am
      by Laser

      Reply

      credit where it’s due: the best thing he said by a mile, and maybe the only thing that inspired real confidence was not to sit in your mistakes. admit your mistakes and fix them. if i’ve been critical of dumars for one thing above all else, it’s his stubbornness and pride. the worst thing he could do is continue to compound his mistakes by ditching a precious pick to unload a productive player who is arguably our third worst contract. unforgivable, and we’re all very lucky rip nixed it.
       
      and i really liked his comment about value. spending is ok as long as you get value. i’m 100% behind that. these were the two very good answers gores gave. sort of broad concepts, but i like them.

  • Jun 3, 20111:50 pm
    by L Boogie

    Reply

    I love the comment above about getting rid of charlie for a box of chocolates and twinkees, that was HILARIOUS, hahaha. I think Tom Gores should announce his twitter feed or email address so the fans can stay in contact with him, and voice our concerns; we are PASSIONATE fans, so I think that would be great to connect with the fans; I think he also needs a 1 on 1 with each player who caused a rift with the coach last year, to find out why da F*&^K they acted like that, and WHY SHOULD THEY REMAIN A PISTON. Tom should make sure they have a special clause or verbiage in players contract going forward, which allows us to let them GOOOOOOO, based on BS, there performance, and how they act with the community. What do yall think Piston Nation?????

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