Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shock Owner William Davidson Dies



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.

4 comments:

Ethan said...

Sad news.

Despite having to hate Detroit teams by law (Chicago area upbringing and all), I did think it was cool that the owner named a street "X" Championships Way, where "X" included however many titles the Shock won. People complained (of course), but the owner said championships is championships. More of this, please.

pt said...

Ethan, I didn't know that. I wonder where "Six Championships Way" can be found in Detroit?

Rebecca said...

Championship Drive is the street where the Palace is, and *insert appropriate number of Detroit hoops titles here* is the address of the Palace. I recall one joke about that being the reason why Malone took his sweet time finding Ford- the address kept changing!

The story I heard was that Davidson was ready to fold the Shock after 2002. Laimbeer said to give him a year. We all know what happened next.

He's the kind of owner I wish there was more of in sports, but I fear that the model is going extinct.

Ethan said...

Rebecca - the "X" includes baseball too. Every time a team he owned won the "big one" the count went up.

Naturally I only heard griping about including the Shock in that number.