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Stan Van Gundy winning hearts and minds

Me at the Detroit Free Press on Stan Van Gundy:

Remember, this is someone who once told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Detroit, even in the regular season, has a particularly nasty crowd. … They’re not just loud. Those people will say anything and do anything. … Quite honestly, if I was somebody sitting in the crowd, it would be embarrassing. I have never understood the idea (that) because I bought a ticket to the game, I can sit there and yell anything I want."

I loathed Van Gundy then. The nerve of that guy!

In his introductory news conference, Van Gundy — famous for disliking cold weather — pledged to move Michigan. He stressed the importance of being part of the community.

And with that, he won me over — not that I needed much convincing to support the Pistons’ first good coach in several tries. (By the way, Stan, I’m a native Michigander, and I never liked the cold, either. It’s OK.)

Since then, he has continued to impress.

The Pistons should be proud that they own a privately financed arena. Bill Davidson built the Palace of Auburn Hills (and Tom Gores has upgraded it) with private money, not the taxpayers’. Those two owners have allowed the area’s taxes to go to much more important causes than a basketball team.

Yet, meddling Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — who holds business interests downtown — often takes swipes at the Auburn Hills Pistons. Would it be preferable for the Pistons to play in Detroit? In a vacuum, yes. But the Palace has already been built, and it would be way too costly to abandon a great arena for a new one.

Anyway, it’s a complex civil issue with a history of debate. Van Gundy already gets it.

“We represent the Detroit metropolitan area … and where we play doesn’t have that much relevance," Van Gundy told WMGC-FM (105.1). "The second thing is, obviously, Dan Gilbert has some selfish interest for saying what he said; I think we all know what those are. And then finally, I think he’s got enough to be concerned with about his own team without worrying about us.”


Then there are Van Gundy’s latest words on the Pistons and their fans.

“This is a community asset, and we owe these people," he told pistons.com. "We absolutely do.”

That sentiment is appreciated.

Van Gundy dismissed Rasheed Wallace as an assistant coach. Later this month, he’ll decline a team option on Chauncey Billups, making him a free agent.

In a very short amount of time, Van Gundy will be pushing out two icons. He should pull off both moves without retribution from the fan base.

He already has established enough good will.


  • Jun 6, 20141:48 pm
    by Pete


    He’s going to “move Michigan” you say?  How about move TO Michigan?  I don’t know whether to blame the “writer” or the editor at the Free Press, but that’s sad.

    • Jun 6, 20141:52 pm
      by Larry


      Hey guy, you can bring it to his attention without being dickish. What’s the last publication you wrote for?

  • Jun 6, 20142:00 pm
    by Pete


    If he was doing it voluntarily, I wouldn’t say a word.  It’s the fact he  or the editor (most likely the editor) gets paid and still makes those mistakes.

    • Jun 6, 20143:09 pm
      by labatts


      Nah,  You’d find SOMETHING to bitch about.

      • Jun 7, 201412:36 am
        by CityofKlompton


        labatts, give Pete a break. It is quite clear this man has never made a typo or any kind of small oversight at his job. We should be looking up to him.

  • Jun 6, 20142:58 pm
    by JamesJones_Det


    All I know is if at any point I have to listen to Jeff Van Gundy as Stan being part of these team I will renounce my Piston viewership during his time (minus national TV).
    Call me “Fair Weather” if you like but not watching or listening is not abandoning the team, I just can’t stand to listen to that guy flip flop all over the place…

  • Jun 6, 20144:01 pm
    by Corey


    Declining the team option on Chauncey won’t give him a good-will hit. I think every Piston fan loved watching Chauncey come out with the starting lineup last year. But he quickly proved he can’t play any more, and that it’s time to move on. It would be criminal negligence in SVG’s attempt to rebuild the team to leave $2.5m in cap space committed to Billups when there’s the possibility of signing a major free agent to upgrade the team. Who will they get? Who knows? But without Chauncey, and without the first round draft pick (small silver lining, but it’s there), the team could be looking at around $13m in cap space this summer.
    That’s borderline all-star money, and there are players out there who would make a difference. We need a starting caliber SF who can shoot (and ideally handle the ball as well, but that may be asking a lot), and we need a quality starter at PG to make Jennings expendable or a backup.  A Kyle Lowry or a Chandler Parsons (if he ends up an RFA) would make a huge difference to this team, and Chauncey’s cap space could make the difference.

  • Jun 6, 20146:47 pm
    by Windy


    Who cares let’s talk FREE AGENTS!!!

  • Jun 6, 201410:34 pm
    by Ryank



    Anyway, it’s a complex civil issue with a history of debate. Van Gundy already gets it.
    “We represent the Detroit metropolitan area … and where we play doesn’t have that much relevance,” Van Gundy told WMGC-FM (105.1). “The second thing is, obviously, Dan Gilbert has some selfish interest for saying what he said; I think we all know what those are. And then finally, I think he’s got enough to be concerned with about his own team without worrying about us.”

    Van Gundy doesn’t get it.  The only people who “get it” are the people who live in and around Auburn Hills.  When you put an arena out in the middle of a corn field, the owner gets all the benefit…the community gets nothing.  You can’t walk to the palace, you have to fork over $10 to park your car in Tom Gore’s lot (used to be $10, might be more now).  When you buy a $13 beer, that’s $12 in Gore’s pocket.  When you pay for a ticket, Tom Gores makes money.  When the NBA sells it’s TV contract, Gores makes money.
    If you put this in the middle of downtown like ALL THE OTHER NBA teams, good things happen all around it.  Bars, Restaurants, galleries, shops, lofts, condos…  People park their car and walk to the arena…they stop and have a bite of food, they have a beer, they watch a street performer.  None of this happens in Auburn Hills.
    A community asset…  How is this a community asset when the community gets no benefit?  Van Gundy might really get it, but he’s going wave the company banner.  Gore’s signs his pay check so he’s a puppet of Gores.  

    • Jun 7, 201412:49 am
      by CityofKlompton


      Actually, arenas and stadiums in downtown areas have proven to have a negative impact upon the city in several instances (see: St. Louis.) While they usually help the immediate area within only a couple of blocks, they often suck resources from other areas that need them around the city. That is usually do to a very poor agreement for public financing, though (see: St. Louis.)
      There are also hotels and bar/restaurants in Auburn Hills that probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Palace. It may not be a bustling downtown area, but it has benefitted from being the location of the arena. Gores would also be making money from the purchase of a ticket, beer, food, etc. whether they played downtown or in Auburn Hills. Those things aren’t suddenly going to become free, or even cheaper, if they played downtown.

      • Jun 7, 20141:02 am
        by JYD for Life


        While I agree with Ryan about moving the team downtown and all of the positives from it.  
        Klompton is right that there are things to do in the area, but realistically, it’s more convenient to take advantage of the tremendous amount of amenities available at the Palace…so that’s definitely staying with Gores and was by design when Bill D and Tom Wilson laid the foundation.  
        Ryan – the Palace does provide jobs for folks from the city of Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Rochester, Oxford and even Detroit.  So you’re not entirely accurate.  

      • Jun 7, 20147:28 am
        by Ryank


        I don’t know the St. Louis situation, but looking at an anomoly and thinking that’s a good argument for ignoring the 99% of success that’s found when a team moves downtown isn’t foolish.  If you get around, you will see how many downtowns have been restored 10-15 years out…complete renaissance!    
        Jobs at the arena are going to happen regardless of where it is.  The bars and restaurants in Auburn Hills…they shouldn’t exist!  This is a Detroit team and Detroit has suffered because the team isn’t there.  
        Gores would not get the parking money.  Gores would have to split the revenue for concessions.  Gores would have to split the money for everything…split it with local businesses.  Instead he sits out there in Beverly Hills counting, spending, and reinvesting elsewhere.  The money is leaving instead of recirculating through the local economy.  Look up the economic principle of the multiplier effect.  
        The fact is the Pistons will stay in AH for a long time.  Detroit is paying for terrible mistakes of the past…this is one of them.  

        • Jun 7, 20149:34 am
          by Tim Thielke


          I think the real question is whether those benefits add up to more than price of funding the arena, and I don’t know the answer to that question. But that is also the norm and a massive burden on taxpayers.

          • Jun 7, 20147:30 pm
            by Ryank

            I’ve seen it first hand in two different cities.  The catalyst is incredible.  A city without a thriving downtown is like a person without a soul.  The taxes collected on building a facility are like manna from heaven.  Detroit will get back 100 fold what it invests.
            Gores’ greed will hold Detroit back…no double about it.  The pistons will struggle with attendance forever unless they put a contender on the floor…it’s not a Detroit team.  Gores needs to get with the times.  Humans flock to where there is a concentration of activity.  The mentality of of the suburbs is crumbling.  Detroit is 20 years behind the times and the longer they wait, the longer they postpone the recovery.

          • Jun 7, 20147:39 pm
            by oats

            Most publicly funded arenas are actually tax free properties as well.

          • Jun 7, 201410:23 pm
            by Ryank

            The revenue and taxes comes from the surrounding development.  The arena by itself is not what changes things…it’s a catalyst for everything else around it.  
            Those vacant buildings and store fronts…what can I put in there to ride this wave and make some money off the crowd that walks through here to see the Pistons?  If I go down there and play my guitar, I bet I can make a few bucks.  Wow, this is becoming a great area…I’d like to live down here.  We need a grocery store for all these people living down here.   Can you believe this place once sold for $20,000?!?

          • Jun 7, 201410:40 pm
            by Huddy

            Detroit doesn’t lack a soul, it lacks industry large enough to support its population by providing jobs.  Arenas just draw in people who mostly would and will never live in the city.  Those people inject cash into the business owners, sustain some restraunt/hotel business and do nothing to solve the lack of tax dollars causing the shrinking police force, lack of funding to remove blight, and all the other actual issues in the city.

          • Jun 8, 20148:01 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            “I’ve seen it first hand in two different cities.  The catalyst is incredible.”

            That’s all well and good. But it working in two instances that you’ve witnessed is not particularly meaningful because there are many more you haven’t that have been positive or negative.

            Yes, it could be the epicenter of a city wide revival. Or it could be a drain on public funding to put it up in the first place and then suddenly there’s not enough money for schools and for cop and for roads and for medicine, etc. And then the city is left in much worse shape.

            Basically, it would be very difficult for a bankrupt city to justify buying an arena so that people don’t watch the games int he suburbs.

          • Jun 8, 20149:23 pm
            by JYD for Life

            @RyanK – It’s hardly Gores’ greed…it’s good business sense.  
            What incentive does he have to move the team downtown when he controls most revenues coming into the Palace?  
            I’m asking this while saying that I agree with you that it would be HUGE if they played in the city…but I think the only way to make it possible is to share the stadium with the Wings…building a new one is out of the question.   
            Also – You’re slightly underselling the transformation that has already begun downtown.  There’s a Whole Foods at Mack and Woodward…there’s going to be a ton of development across from the condos where the new Joe is going in.
            With sold out hockey games and really solid attendance at the Tigers games, I have to ask why you think adding the Pistons would make such a dramatic shift in a desire to move to the city?  Keep in mind that a majority of these games are played when there is snow on the ground…so street traffic to revitalize the city might not be your strongest argument.  
            The only thing moving them downtown actually accomplishes is going to still benefit Gores because attendance (from the city, downriver and out west in Novi, Farmington, etc) would rise.  That’s it…and I’m not anticipating people clamoring for tickets right now regardless of where they play…if the team begins winning again, people will travel to the Palace to see games.  
            If you’re going to slam anyone, slam Karen D for not selling the team to the Illitch group.  
            They would have moved the Wings to A.Hills for two years while the new arena is built, then moved both downtown while still keeping the Palace for concerts and special events (rarely having a dark night in either building).  It would have been the perfect model…and allowed for even more development on the waterfront.    
            At this point, Gores has no incentive to move the team…especially if he isn’t going to partner with illitch on the new arena.  

        • Jun 7, 201411:29 am
          by CityofKlompton


          St. Louis is just the most glaring example of how sports teams and stadiums can have a negative impact on a city. The city was fleeced in deals with their pro teams and the city paid the price dearly. There are several other cities who suffered no positive impact as a result of having their team downtown. 
          Refer to this article for a brief introduction to the topic: http://news.illinois.edu/news/04/1117stadiums.html
          It’s not as simple as “put the team here, and we will make money.” In a wide scope of cities, it actually brings no economic development whatsoever, and in a lot of cases, the economy takes some kind of hit. Davidson privately funded The Palace. Who says Gores would privately fund a new arena downtown? 
          It basically comes down to Tim’s question, are the intangible values worth more than the tangible costs? There is not a simple answer.

          • Jun 7, 20147:18 pm
            by Ryank

            Let me guess, you’re mayor of Auburn Hill?

        • Jun 8, 20142:45 pm
          by Anthony J.


          It may just be my way of thinking, but how exactly will moving the pistons to detroit suddenly improve the condition that detroit is in more than the other 3 major sports teams. To me, I dont believe the pistons will make much of a difference moving downtown than the lions, red wings and tigers

  • Jun 7, 201410:41 am
    by Anthony


    Whoever was complaining about the food at the palace doesn’t even know how expensive it is everywhere else! I live in Chicago and going to bulls games is damn near 50$ just to eat a little something and get a drink. At the palace I can stop at bww and get a souvenir cup for about 20$ that’s a DEAL! When I go to pistons games I feel like everything is on sale cause it’s so cheap! So no complaining! 

    • Jun 9, 201410:38 am
      by Huddy


      You would feel the same way about groceries, rent, etc. because the cost of living is significantly lower in michigan.  It’s not apples to apples comparing prices in arenas In different areas of the country.

  • Jun 7, 20147:28 pm
    by Kevin


    Van Gundy is winning hearts and minds now, but I think we all know how quickly the general sports fan in Michigan turns on this team when they aren’t playing well.  He needs to win and win early to make a statement.  If he can do it without mortgaging the future, he’ll really be loved here.
    2014 Season Review: Greg Monroe

  • Jun 7, 20149:51 pm
    by Domnick


    He’ll win more if we see significant improvement next season…. Right now, this PR is just a start

  • Jun 8, 20149:08 pm
    by The Microwave


    I hope that Stan can convince them to let them play downtown on an outside court if the fans don’t want to show up to the stadium. I think that would be the pretty sweet for the city.

  • Jun 11, 20149:34 pm
    by Anthony


    I’d still be a fan of te auburn hills Pistons

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