I was never more proud to be a Piston fan than I was on April 1st, 2011.
The Detroit faithful gave a warm “welcome back” to Dennis Rodman as he watched his No. 10 was lifted high above the Palace floor. The Worm broke down crying multiple times, in both the pre-game presser and during the actual ceremony. He told the media he didn’t know if he was worthy of such an honor, and wished he had stayed longer in a city that loved him more than he ever thought possible. Rodman was never the cleanest, or most popular, but he was OUR guy. He embodied “Goin’ To Work” before it was a catchphrase, and set the table for guys like Ben Wallace to succeed in the NBA. Even when he played for the Jordan’s Bulls, some the most hated teams in Piston history, fans still remembered his contributions to Detroit. They remembered the blocks, the game-saving charges, and the blood/sweat/tears he gave for (at that point) the only two titles in team history.
Detroit is a great many things, but “forgetful” is not one of them.
True to form, just as they had not forgotten the contributions of Rodman, Piston fans did not forget the indiscretions of Karen Davidson. When she was introduced to the Palace crowd at halftime, Davidson was booed with an intensity to match the cheers for The Worm. Davidson has tried selling the Pistons for the past two years and still hasn’t found a suitor. She had the chance to sell the team to Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, (a move that would have made her a hero in the eyes of Detroiters), only to watch a potential deal evaporate after Davidson’s projections reportedly didn’t match what the Ilitches found in the team’s books. She agreed to exclusive negotiations with Tom Gores for two weeks in February, only two have those two weeks expire with fans left wondering who owned the team. No deal was made at the time. This has left the franchise in limbo, with the front office in a holding pattern (no new moves or drastic changes to the cap) until a buyer can be found.
Was it unfair to boo the woman who only became owner of the Pistons due to the death of her husband two years ago? Perhaps. There are certainly arguments to be made for that case. I understand that, aside from his family, the Pistons were likely the second love in Bill Davidson’s life and letting go of that is difficult. But ask yourself this: If Karen Davidson can’t sell the home they shared in Aspen, CO, what makes you think she can sell this team any time soon? Why couldn’t she sell a team that she he repeatedly stated she has absolutely no interest in owning? Times in Detroit are hard, and Pistons fans scrape by what little money they have to attend games. With all due respect, blue-collar fans don’t want to see a billionaire widow quibble over millions of dollars while they pay 10 dollars for parking and their team is hand-cuffed to mediocrity until the proper asking price is reached.
As I watched with interest from 3,000 miles away, Pistons fans turned out to honor one of the all-time greats and expressed their displeasure with the current state of a once-great franchise. The patrons were nothing less than the Worm in his heyday:
Loud and proud.