Saturday, March 14, 2009
William Davidson died yesterday at the age of 85 years old. He was the owner of the Detroit Shock, but was probably better known to the casual sports fan as the owner of the Detroit Pistons and Tampa Bay Lightning. His Detroit Pistons would win three NBA championships and his Detroit Shock would win three WNBA championships.
I don't know enough about him personally to write even a blogger's eulogy, but I do know that he was a great philanthropist, and he loved basketball - and not just men's basketball. Davidson could occasionally be seen at Shock games, even when he didn't look all that healthy. His was not the case of a Les Alexander, the man who took on the ownership of the Houston Comets strictly as a favor to David Stern and was astonishingly indifferent to his own team's success. A billionaire like Davidson has a wide choice of diversions....and he wanted his Shock to win and he wanted to be there to see them do it.
The story as I understand it from women's basketball fans is that he took on Bill Laimbeer as the coach of the Shock because he had affection for Laimbeer during Laimbeer's days as a Pistons Bad Boy. Laimbeer repaid Davidson by winning three WNBA championships. Without Davidson, no Laimbeer; without Laimbeer the WNBA would have lost a great coach.
The WNBA has lost a great patron and an honorable man. My understanding is that Davidson intended for the franchise to remain owned by his family after his passing, and I hope his successor will love the Shock as much as he did.