Should We Second-Guess Tom Gores?

In the middle of a game that featured a crazed Charlie Villanueva chasing after Ryan Hollins of the Cavaliers, there singing and clapping was the future owner of the Pistons. While the game had an ugly tone too it, the remaining memories will likely surround Tom Gores signing autographs and leading the arena in Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” With all of the excitement and relief around the sale of the Pistons nearing a conclusion, should we be skeptical about the man set to lead the Pistons?

An article in FORTUNE on Wednesday looked deeper into the paperwork behind Tom Gores’ deal with Palace Sports and Entertainment, and found that Pistons fans are taking this Los Angeles billionaire at his word. Much like a presidential candidate looking for votes from prospective voters, Gores has looked to appeal to the masses by focusing on his years in Flint and his summer home on Grosse Ile. A deeper dive into the deal tells a story that doesn’t seem as Michigan friendly.

First, the sale is not directly to Tom Gores. When Karen Davidson hands over the keys to the Palace empire, she’ll be selling them to Platinum Equity, Gores’ private equity fund. Never before in professional sports history has a private equity fund had control of a single franchise. In this situation, the Pistons will be a singular entity in a portfolio of profitable enterprises. Theoretically if the Pistons do not turn a profit in a hurry, another sale would not be far off in the future.

If that isn’t concerning enough, don’t expect to see much of Gores around the Palace. The fans cheering on the new face of the franchise on Monday night were looking for Detroit’s own version of Mark Cuban. Instead, they have an absent leader that may be more interested in turning a dollar than turning around a franchise.