Matt Dobek Rumors
Palace Sports & Entertainment put the eight days between Pistons home games to good use. The corporation dedicated the Matt Dobek Press Room before Sunday’s game against the Boston Celtics to honor the late Pistons vice president of public relations. More than 10 members of Dobek’s family were on hand to watch the ceremony featuring comments from Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, Palace president Dennis Mannion and longtime NBA public relations executive Brian McIntyre. Pistons play-by-play announcer George Blaha presided.
“He’s still shy, in a lot of ways,” Thomas said. “The thing we talked about — there’s no Matt Dobek, no Chuck Daly — those two people were really important to him. And he was saying, ‘How can I come back and not talk about them?’ ”
When he smiled and asked “did you rip us?” the key was not the question but the smile. It was a subtle acknowledgment of the tension beneath the surface. Matt never let that tension overwhelm the room. One story should tell you what I mean. In the spring of 2004, I told Matt that I wanted a sit-down interview with the team’s controversial new forward, Rasheed Wallace. Matt did not know me that well, and Rasheed barely knew Matt at all, and Wallace was notoriously wary of the media. If Wallace didn’t like the interview, Matt told me, “not only will he be done with you, but he’ll be done with me.” Still, he said he would try.
I don’t know the details of why Matt was fired. As far as I can tell, very few people know, and those who do haven’t spoken publicly. So I am in no position to judge the merits of the decision. But I do know that when I talked to Matt shortly after he was fired, he seemed lost, and not just in ways you might expect. It wasn’t just that he needed a job. He sounded like he didn’t know what to do with himself. He had worked for the Pistons for 29 of his 51 years and suddenly he must have felt that it meant a lot more to him than it did to them.
It was bad enough that I talked to a few people about organizing a dinner for him — just a night for media people to let him know we were thinking about him. But it was summer, vacations kept getting in the way and the dinner did not seem urgent. I found out Matt took his life before anything was really planned. His funeral was Saturday.
Last weekend, Matt Dobek took his own life. I suspect that a lot of fans did not even know who he was until he died. That’s a shame, because good people like Matt, who was one of several employees fired by the Pistons in May, are an essential part of the sports world. Most fans do not know (or need to know) about the tug-of-war that goes on behind the scenes between reporters and athletes. Athletes often don’t want to give interviews; reporters, of course, would like to interview point guards as they dribble up the court during playoff games.