On the eve of the 2023 NBA Finals, the 17-win Pistons were the talk of the basketball world. It was a symbolic omen for a franchise — one of only eight in the NBA with at least three championship banners flying — that has known ultimate success and expects to do so again.
The stunning news that Monty Williams, named coach of the year by his peers in the NBA Coaches Association in both 2021 and ’22, had agreed to coach the Pistons is the latest example of Pistons owner Tom Gores’ steadfast commitment to deliver his team. all necessary resources to bring championship aspirations to reality.
Gores, whose willingness to invest heavily in projects he supports is evident in his many community-enriching ventures in Detroit, his hometown of Flint and elsewhere, has repeatedly said he wanted to get the Pistons to a place where it would be necessary to enter the luxury tax. . He longs for the day he writes a check to the NBA for a championship-worthy salary.
By pursuing and winning over Williams – a pursuit that has been credibly reported as a relentless refusal to take no for an answer from a coach with a dazzling array of options – he has once again proven that his words are backed by a gold standard.
Getting Williams, who took over a 19-win Suns team and had them in the NBA Finals within two years, is a coup. Capital C. When Phoenix made the head-scratching decision to part ways, every Pistons fan thought, wow, wouldn’t it be great if he would be the guy to take over for Dwane Casey and partner with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and the rest of the talented young roster Troy Weaver has assembled since its inception three years ago.
Well, Tom Gores had the same thought. Except he was the one person on the planet who had the power to make it happen.
And in keeping with everything he’s promised to make the Pistons a beloved community trust since taking ownership in 2011, he refused to accept any other outcome than convincing Monty Williams that the Pistons were as right for him as he was for the Pistons.
Fans don’t see much of what owners do. Players they see 82 times a year. The coach gets them judged in real time every night. The owner only enters their consciousness when big decisions are made and bold visions are executed.
None is bigger or bolder than this. Gores patiently saw through the efforts to win with an aging team, shaped the franchise’s vision that a rebuild was in order, and has agonized along with the fan base over the past three seasons. But he knew pain was an inevitable part of the package when he approved the organizational decision to embark on a rebuild in February 2020 when the Pistons traded Andre Drummond at the trade deadline.
He hired Weaver to launch what the general manager has called a “recovery” — because only something known for greatness can be restored — and with the Williams hire, he’s signaled that, three years later, it’s time to move this phase in overdrive.
As Gores explained his role in the hunt for and win over Williams this week, we heard him talk about his near- and long-term expectations. It’s fair to extrapolate from his targeting of a coach with a history of guiding young teams from promise to payoff that Gores has faith in an immediate and remarkable impact.
Just as he promised the time was right to pay the luxury tax, the time was right now to bring the coach into the boat, bringing everything to the table to start the restoration.
Around the stamps it has become ingrained that when a request for resources is sent to the owner and the logic is sound, it is granted. Nowhere was that more evident than in their move to downtown Detroit—also spurred by Gores’ vision to expand the reach of the Pistons in their community—and the commitment to build a new team headquarters and practice facility.
This facility – the Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center – is a state-of-the-art marvel that caters to the needs of every player and support staff in place to help them achieve their collective goal of maximizing the potential of all who wear the Pistons Shirt. From the on-call chefs to the in-house hairdresser, Gores’ dedication made the building not only a catalyst for neighborhood improvement, but also a place players love to call their workplace.
It’s tangible evidence of how the owner prioritizes the things that matter most to build a winning culture. Word has spread through both player and coach that they are being treated well in Detroit. When the owner sees a path to moves that enhance the goal of winning championships, he strikes without hesitation and with supreme power.
A coach who comes with a track record of turnarounds and an excellent reputation became available and Tom Gores, defying all expectations, had Monty Williams take over a 17-win pack. It made the Pistons the talk of the NBA with the league’s showcase Finals event on tap. The next time the Pistons dominate the NBA discussion in June, expect it to be for a completely different reason.