Posted January 16, 2017

Billionaire Genesee native Gores follows Uncle Tom Joubran's way in staying loyal to his leader; But Detroit Pistons now losing fans   

   AUBRUN HILLS  — Tom Gores learned a lot from his uncle while growing up in Genesee. His lessons began while sweeping floors in Tom Joubran's grocery store. Tom and twin brother Alec have often praised their late uncle for giving them a pretty good education while watching him build and operate a business empire.

   Showing loyalty to employees was a staple of Joubran's way in steering so many businesses to success. I guess that's why Tom Gores isn't paying attention to my disgust for his basketball coach. If the billionaire wants to stick with his basketball coach of the Detroit Pistons, I guess it's time for me to shut up on the subject until Stan VanGundy and his players get out the golf clubs during the NBA playoffs.

   Or maybe Gores has been too busy to pay attention to the writings of an award-winning sports columnist who has thousands of listeners who tune in to my radio show every day to hear my rants.

   Maybe he lumps me in with all the others who don't interact with business people every day in Genesee County where he grew up. You know, all the guys who like to go to work in shorts and flip flops when the weather is nice. They've filled Detroit's sports talk radio airwaves during the past few days by mostly blasting  the big announcement by Gores that VanGundy can keep coaching the Detroit Pistons despite their dreadful 18-24 start. Gores made his comments to Keith Langiois of in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles during halftime of Sunday's game with the Lakers at the Staples Center.

   The Pistons promptly went out in the second half and won 102-97 to improve their record to 19-24. They're dead last in the Central Division of the NBA's Eastern Conference going into Wednesday's return home to the Palace of Auburn Hills to play the Atlanta Hawks.

   It's a horrible record for a team with talent on a par with the best teams in the East. It's absolutely not acceptable for a frnachise with a payroll that's more than $116 million this season.

   It's not unreasonable to expect better of these Pistons when considering only the Portland Trailblazers and defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers have a bigger payroll, yet Detroit's record was seven games under .500 when Gores gave VanGundy his vote of confidence at halftime Sunday

   “I never worry about Stan because he wants to win," Gores said. "He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen in my life. I believe in him as a man. I believe in him as a strong person... As an owner, I have to provide support and Stan, as the coach and the president, has to provide a lot of direction. And both of us provide vision together. I think Stan is an incredible leader. He really is. He’s an incredible leader.”

   With all due respect Mr. Owner, nice guys finish last in sports as baseball manager Leo Durocher once famously told reporters.

   It's not all wins and losses, and X's and O's with VanGundy. He has lost all respect from many fans after his post-election meltdown when going all political on us.

   If Gores wants fans to get behind his team, maybe he should start by at least scolding VanGundy for going political with his unprofessional rant about Donald Tump getting elected. I've yet to talk to a single person in the business community who didn't agree with my rant about it on the radio and in my column.

   "I will never go to another game as long as Gores owns the team if he doesn't fire the guy or at least fine him for it along with making him apologize," one told me. "I usually go down a dozen times every year to the Palace, but not after VanGundy made me puke with his anti Trump rant. What's funny is that I don't like Trump either, but he is our president. As Americans, we need to show him respect and support. The big thing is that we use sports to forget about politics and all the problems of the day like you said on the radio, Mike. You were absolutely right that the last thing I want is to hear a basketball coach do is to rant about his players feeling all hurt because of election day."

   Gores should be aware that my friend's comments are similar to what I've been hearing all over our business community in my role as President at the Flint Area Chamber of Commerce. Gores should remember that business owners and middle class ticket buyers finance his basketball operations.

   NFL owners can't understand why TV ratings are down by nearly 10 percent this season. They ignore the outrage of the majority in America who can't stand how the NFL did nothing at the beginning of the season when a then third-string quarterback for the 49ers (Colin KKaepernick) decided to start taking a knee during the national anthem.

   One sports bar in Birmingham made national news when the owners stopped showing any NFL game on its TV screens that included Kaepernick or one of his copy cats were disrespecting our country.

   You would think Gores would pay attention to the cool reception his fan base has given the team this season.
The 16,532 figure is a joke. Half that were inside the Palace on all three of my visits this year, and that was before VanGundy went political and made me sick to my stomach. The team with the third highest payroll in the NBA is third worst in attendance.

   What's worse is that the average is inflated by better crowds before VanGundy's tirade with all the liberal gobbledygook about how his players were so hurt by America voting for Trump.

   Subtract out big crowds for the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors and the average is a dismal 14,450 per game since VanGundy was sent a bushel of rotten apples on my radio show. Detroit's fans who went to see LeBron James were also angered by the defending champs sitting him out at the Palace.

   As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver puts his head together with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to figure out how to shorten games to win interest from America's millennials, Gores should speak up to them about what his uncle's old friend keeps hollering about on the radio and in this space for The Daily Gazette.

   I like it that Gores has his Uncle Tom Joubran's way of always looking for the silver lining of every cloud. The problem this cloud is a very dark one hovering over this franchise at a time when so many fans have stopped buying tickets.

   But Gores put on an optimistic face at halftime Sunday by talking about the decision to move in next season with the Ilitch family's Red Wings at the new Little Caesars Arena. Some suggest it's a first step toward Gores teaming up with Dan Gilbert in the very near future to buy the Red Wings and Tigers from the Ilitch family. I'm a big fan of the idea because I know it's a fact that Gores wants to deliver a winner for fans and his ownership is a way of giving back to his community..

   “I was hoping that everybody would react positively and I think that’s what’s happened,” Gores said Sunday during the halftime break of Detroit's game with the Lakers. “I’m always amazed how we can impact the community. It always touches my heart in terms of the way we can impact the community. I also want to say that I’m comfortable with (Red Wings owners) the Ilitches and Chris Ilitch, especially, and the leader he is.”

   If ignoring all the other troubles with VanGundy's image in our business community, his team is in last place and the coach can't blame the general manager or the President. He's the GM and the President of Basketball Operations because Gores gave him the ultimate trust in believing VanGundy can help Gores deliver on his promise to produce a winner with the Pistons.

   Ever the eternal optimist, Gores says he thinks the team will get better. “I think we’re going to make a run,” Gores said Sunday. “I like our guys. I like this group of guys. We’re going to make a run.”


​Mike Killbreath hosts The Morning Gazette Radio Show live weekdays from 8 am until 9 am on and hosts The Daily Gazette Sports Weekend Show every Saturday from 10 am until noon.

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The Daily Gazette 

January 16, 2017

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    Mike Killbreath is a veteran newspaper man who began hosting a radio show in 2009. He currently serves as Executive Editor at The Daily Gazette while hosting "The Morning Gazette Radio Show" on the local radio air waves live every weekday morning from 8 am until 9 am. He will be seen soon on more than 180,000 TV screens and via the digital signal at myCCN.TV with "The Morning Gazette TV Edition" that will air during the hour before taking your calls on the radio show. Mike's background includes winning awards at the state and national levels for investigative reporting, local columns, feature writing, sports writing and sports columns. He has also served as President at the Flint Area Chamber of Commerce since 2011 and has served on its Executive Board since mid-2010.


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