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Michigan State graduate, billionaire Tom Gores potentially involved in purchase of Detroit Pistons




Tom Gores is many things: a billionaire businessman residing with his family in Beverly Hills, Calif.; the founder of Platinum Equity, a company created in 1995 that has boasted earnings of over $27 billion aggregate REVENUE at time of acquisition since its inception; a mainstay on annual Forbes lists of the richest people in not only the United States but the entire world.

He is also a graduate of Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1986. He said of his time in East Lansing, "I had a great experience at State, and I continue to be proud of having gone there. I keep many close friendships made during my college years. The University offers a true balance between excellent education and a sense of camaraderie and sociability."

It has been decades since Gores moved with his family from his homeland of Israel to settle in Genesee, Mich., but the move has been quite kind to him and his family. According to Forbes, Gores spent his 20s learning about the buyout business with his older brother, Alec, and has made over 100 acquisitions since his firm was created about 16 years.

While seeking his degree at Michigan State, Gores worked as a janitor and telemarketer to help pay for his education. Now, one of the richest men in the western hemisphere may be seeking a new challenge: buying the Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons, currently owned by Karen Davidson (daughter of the late Bill Davidson), have been the cause of plenty of speculation in Michigan as word spread that the historic franchise may be on the market. The organization has been sliding not only on the court but also in terms of public perception and fan appeal, and basketball in the state of Michigan is becoming a mere afterthought after a decade of competitive teams and NBA Finals runs.

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While Gores' business model — which has worked to near perfection — has been to turn a loss into a profit, the task may be a lot for anyone to just walk into and turn around on a whim. Sports franchises are not gravy trains until the teams are successful in terms of revenue, fan support and usually a good record in the standings. And not every businessman-turned-owner can be as successful as Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys) or Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks).

The additional bonuses lie in the fact that Gores would not only be buying the Pistons, but also Palace Sports and Entertainment as a whole. It would be a monstrous purchase in which the state has never seen, with hundreds of millions of dollars on the table in what would be a ground-breaking purchase in the Detroit sports scene.

Gores may be the one buyer who may be able to turn things around given his history, not to mention his resounding work ethic and strong beliefs regarding teamwork. It could be a slam dunk or might possibly be an air ball, but it would be a task attacked head on with the potential to resurrect a presently-failing franchise and bring fans back in the stands.

But the question remains: Is purchasing the Detroit Pistons a good business transaction? Time will tell, but a new face at the helm of one of the city's most storied sports teams would be and should be welcomed. With someone like Gores' track record, we would all have no other choice but to jump on and enjoy the ride.