Bill Davidson Rumors
With businessman Dan Gilbert building his empire downtown and the Ilitches moving ahead with their projects in the new arena district, many more people can see something sustainable growing in Detroit. “Back then, we wanted to be a catalyst,” Marantette said. “When others wouldn’t go there, we were going to go there and put a stake in the ground. That’s what Harbortown was.” Davidson was hardly alone in leaving the city; two-thirds of the city’s population, along with many businesses, also skipped out. Nor was Davidson the only suburban sprawler who bad-mouthed Detroit — Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson comes to mind with his often inflammatory remarks belittling the city.
In 1991, I sat down with billionaire businessman Bill Davidson and asked him why he moved his Pistons out of Detroit a few years earlier. Davidson, otherwise amiable, shocked me with his bluntness and severity. “To me it was crystal clear what was going to happen to the city of Detroit,” Davidson said. “People may not like it, but I didn’t cause it to happen. Twenty years ago, I could have told you what the city of Detroit would be like today, knowing what was there. We didn’t move out of anything that had anything positive going for it.”
The estate of former Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson is challenging the government in U.S. Tax Court over billions of dollars claimed by the IRS. The Detroit Free Press says the Internal Revenue Service objects to how Davidson’s accountants valued stock in his company, Guardian Industries, which makes glass and parts for the auto industry.
Some observers say the decline was accelerated when longtime owner Bill Davidson’s almost-daily walks through The Palace executive offices stopped. Davidson died March 13, 2009, and the team was taken over by his wife, Karen Davidson, his family and minority partners. Bill Davidson was the glue that kept it together between basketball team president Joe Dumars and Pistons and Palace president Tom Wilson.
Davidson rarely made demands. He gave constructive criticism. He simply wanted to know what was going on. And seeing the owner just about every day energized the staff. When Davidson died, some of the brain trust that made the Pistons the talk of the sports marketing world began to leave, including many to rival Mike Ilitch and Olympia Entertainment. Ilitch still remains as a potential buyer of the team. “When Mr. Davidson died, it put so many things out of place at The Palace,” former Pistons coach Ray Scott said. “People began to leave that made the organization. Much of that brain power was lost. That staff was lost. Now you have Joe sitting there, who wants to pull some deals, who cannot until the pending sale is complete.”
Early in your days as Mavericks owner, the late Detroit Pistons owner, Bill Davidson, scolded you in an owner’s meeting for being too vocal. What do you remember about that? Cuban: “He said, ‘You haven’t done [expletive] in this league. Shut up until you’ve done something in this league.’ And everyone told him that’s not right. I didn’t care. I walked into the very first board of governors meeting thinking, ‘It’s going to be great. There are 28 other owners and they are all smart, successful business people. It’s going to be a blast.’ Most of the owners didn’t even show up and most of the ones that were there didn’t say a word. And I was like, ‘What the [expletive]?’ I asked David [Stern] and he said, ‘If you got something to say, say it.’ Not everybody liked it. But I kept on saying it.”