Team(s) owned / ownership stake: Detroit Pistons | majority
Other titles: Founder, chairman and chief executive of Platinum Equity
How did you come to own a sports team?
I’m from Michigan; I still have deep roots there and have always been passionate about sports. The Pistons came up for sale in 2011 following the death of the previous owner, Bill Davidson. The team was underperforming, the economy in Detroit was struggling, and there was a lot of pressure on the franchise and its business operations. Having founded a firm that specializes in turnarounds, it was a great opportunity to make a good investment that could deliver a lot of value to our investors. At the same time it was a chance to come back home and help revitalize a historic franchise, with a platform to make a real difference in the community.
Is it an investment or more of a hobby?
It is much more than an investment; it’s a community asset. Owning a sports franchise is unlike owning other kinds of businesses. It goes a lot deeper and gives you a greater sense of purpose because fans and communities feel such a connection to the team. It also creates a greater sense of obligation. More than anything, you want to deliver for the community.
Is it a good investment?
It is a good investment that has a chance to be great if we can move the community and be part of the larger turnaround story in Detroit.
Other than winning, what’s the best thing about owning part of a sports team?
The opportunity to inspire people and use the franchise as a platform to make a difference. The ability to unite and rally people around a shared mission and to be part of a bigger turnaround story that is underway in Detroit.
What’s the worst thing (besides losing)?
The hardest part is sometimes feeling that if you’re not winning, or winning right away, that you’re letting people down. You put a lot of pressure on yourself to win because you know how important it is to people.
How many games a season do you attend?
I go to a lot of games and watch every one on television. I like to be there in person, but owning a team and making a real impact is about so much more than sitting in the stands. It’s about building an organization, providing the tools your people need to be successful, connecting with the players and coaches and making good decisions. Those things mean so much more than sitting behind the bench.
What was your favorite team when you were growing up?
The Pistons, the Lions, Tigers and Red Wings. I love all the teams in Detroit.
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