Beverly Hills billionaire interested in buying Pistons

Beverly Hills billionaire interested in buying Pistons

Published Feb. 11, 2011 3:31 p.m. ET

Feb. 11, 2011


AP Sports Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The owner of the Detroit Pistons on Friday confirmed she is in negotiations with a California billionaire interested in buying the struggling NBA franchise.

Michael Layne, a spokesman for owner Karen Davidson, confirmed the two-week "exclusivity" window and that the owner was working with investor Tom Gores.

Davidson, widow of longtime owner Bill Davidson, is considering a sale of the Pistons by itself or as part of a package with Palace Sports and Entertainment, which includes The Palace of Auburn Hills, DTE Energy Music Theatre and Meadow Brook Music Festival. Any sale needs NBA approval.

In 2009, Forbes valued the Pistons at $479 million, but that figure was down to $360 million last month.

The 46-year-old Gores is from Michigan and has a degree from Michigan State but now lives in Beverly Hills, Calif. He founded Platinum Equity in 1995 and Forbes last year estimated his net worth at $2.4 billion.

Talks fell apart with Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch late last year.

Gores was among the other suitors last year, along with The Postolos Group president George Postolos.

The Pistons won three championships when Bill Davidson was the owner, including back-to-back titles in 1989-90.

But the new owners will have a challenge returning the Pistons to prominence. 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.

Detroit took at 20-33 record into Friday night's game against Miami, with only four teams worse in the Eastern Conference. The drawn-out sale has created the impression of a team in limbo, with the empty seats at the Palace this season adding to a sense of gloom.