Tom Gores to buy NBA's Detroit Pistons

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Associated Press

Posted on April 8, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 8 at 7:36 PM

DETROIT (AP) — Billionaire investor Tom Gores has agreed to buy the Detroit Pistons, the team announced Friday.

The tentative deal, which also includes the team's home arena The Palace of Auburn Hills, must be approved by the NBA. Terms were not disclosed.

Gores, the chairman and CEO of California-based Platinum Equity, is buying the properties from Karen Davidson, who became the owner after her husband, Bill, died in March 2009.

Davidson says in a statement she is "confident that Tom will bring the same energy, dedication and love" to the organization as her late husband.

Gores, 46, founded Platinum Equity in 1995, and in its 2010 list of the 400 richest people in America, Forbes put Gores in a tie for 153rd with a net worth of $2.4 billion.

"I am very proud to have this opportunity to be part of such a tremendous organization," Gores said. "I know it's been a long process, and I appreciate the patience and support of the Detroit community. I have been impressed with the Davidson family and the way it has protected and built such a storied franchise.

"I grew up here, I am glad to be back and I am very excited about all the possibilities looking forward."

Davidson had hoped to reach a deal to sell the team before the season. The Pistons were negotiating terms with Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch around that time, but those talks fell apart. Gores was among the other suitors last year, along with The Postolos Group president George Postolos.

"We are very pleased that the Pistons will continue to call the Detroit area home," Ilitch said in a statement. "Even though we were only engaged in the sale process for a short period of time last year, I was truly amazed by all of the kind words and tremendous support we received from fans and the entire community."

The Pistons' sale, if approved, will end the long and storied ownership of the team by the Davidson family.

NBA Commissioner David Stern released a statement through a league spokesman.

"We are pleased that Karen Davidson has found a worthy successor for ownership of the Pistons and we are looking forward to introducing Tom Gores to the advisory-finance committee at next Thursday's meeting," Stern said.

Spurned in his bids to buy the NFL's Detroit Lions and NHL's Red Wings, Bill Davidson became majority owner of the Pistons in 1974.

He acquired the team from the late Fred Zollner, the man who founded the team in Fort Wayne, Ind., in the 1940s. The franchise moved to Detroit in 1957.

Davidson bought Roundball One for the Pistons, making them one of the first pro sports team with their own airplane. He built a state-of-the-art practice facility for the club and was among the first to put luxury boxes closer to the court in arenas.

The Palace was built for $90 million — all of it Davidson's money — and won instant acclaim as a sports and entertainment venue when it opened in 1988. The Pistons won three championships when Davidson was the owner, including back-to-back titles in 1989-90.

Detroit won the NBA championship in 2004, part of a six-year streak in which the team reached at least the conference finals, but the Pistons went 27-55 last season and haven't been any better in 2010-11, currently sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

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Associated Press writers Ed White and Corey Williams contributed to this report.

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