Tom Gores isn’t buying Pistons, his equity firm is

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Piston fans, there is just never going to be another owner like Bill Davidson.

The storybook ending of a drawn-out, sloppy sale of the team after his death is that Michigan-raised billionaire Tom Gores bought the Pistons and that things will now start back on the path to the glory days.

Except, it’s not really that way. The people at Forbes are here to burst your bubble (via Ball Don’t Lie): Gores isn’t buying the team, his equity fund is.

That’s right: The Detroit Pistons are about to become the first NBA franchise to be owned by a private equity fund. Not by flesh-and-blood individuals who made their fortunes in private equity (like the Boston Celtics or Golden State Warriors), but by a $2.75 billion financial vehicle. What that means is that this the Pistons are about to become an investment, not a labor of love. Something bought for the purpose of later being sold, not to keep in the Michigan-loving family for generations.

The NBA is obviously aware of this reality – my understanding is that Platinum has fully explained to league officials how PE funds operate – and apparently is okay with it.

Yes, it’s true that Gores will invest personal money into the deal. But it’s also true that Gores invests personal money alongside all Platinum Equity deals, by virtue of its partnership agreement. Don’t recall any “hometown hero” stories when Platinum acquired fastening systems manufacturer Acument Global Technologies, which happens to be headquartered in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Gores may well still hold a candle for Bob Lanier, but his primary motivation (and fiduciary duty) today is to turn a profit. If that can be done by maximizing other assets acquired in the transaction — including the Auburn Hills arena, an outdoor concert venue and a music festival — while using the ball-club as a loss leader, then that may be what happens. Or perhaps Platinum is counting on a favorable reworking of the players’ collective bargaining agreement, to move the NBA closer to the NFL’s parity-producing model.

The good news for Pistons fans is this: Winning helps turn profits. If the goal is to make money, then Gores and firm have an incentive to find a winning formula. Still, the idea of an equity fund owning the team is a little disturbing, that the team is not seen by its owners as anything more than an asset.

Sadly, the days of a friendly, community-minded hometown owner are fading fast. If not gone completely.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.