The Detroit Pistons have changed a lot over the years, but owner Bill Davidson was their constant. Bill Davidson had run the Pistons through 35 years, and several eras that brought fame and prosperity, if not infamy, to the franchise. Currently, the Pistons’ latest era of prosperity is close to an end, but a far greater loss took place for the franchise last night. Bill Davidson was pronounced dead last night, from a long-standing illness, at age 86.
Bill Davidson was one of the winningest owners in all of sports just a few years ago. Davidson not only had the Pistons win the NBA Finals in 2004, he was also an owner of the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the same year, and also owned the multiple WNBA champion Detroit Shock. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame just months ago.
Davidson began his tenure as Pistons owner in 1974, paying $6 million to former owner and team founder, Fred Zollner. The Pistons were an unprofitable and bottom-feeding franchise at the time, during an era where there wasn’t much room to contend with the big boys in the NBA. But by the 80’s, the Pistons were a winner.
Davidson brought Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boys to Detroit, completely changing the basketball culture of the city, and of the NBA. By 1988, Davidson moved the Pistons into his own stadium, the Palace of Auburn Hills.
With two NBA championships later brought in, the Pistons became one of the most wealthy and powerful teams in the league. Currently, the Pistons are worth close to $430 million, according to Forbes.
Davidson worked closely with commissioner David Stern to revitalize the NBA into a global market. Although the Pistons slumped in the 90’s, Davidson oversaw their return to power in this decade, as they won an NBA title and have been in six straight conference finals.
However, Davidson had been ill most of the last few years, having been confined to a wheelchair and missing most of the Pistons home games. The exact cause of death has not yet been released.
Davidson passed away after the Pistons won over the Toronto Raptors, as they struggle to get over .500. The Pistons are likely to stay in the Davidson family.
Davidson reportedly died at his home, surrounded by his family. Funeral services are scheduled at Southfield on Tuesday.
The Detroit News- “Ailing Pistons owner Bill Davidson dies at 86” detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article
Seattle Post-Intelligencer- “Pistons owner Davidson dies” seattlepi.nwsource.com/scorecard/nbanews.asp