Bill Davidson, Detroit Pistons Owner, Dies

Jason ColdironCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2009

Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson, 86, died this past Friday. The cause of death is unknown.


"The entire Palace family is mourning the loss of Mr. Davidson," President of Palace Sports and Entertainment and Pistons CEO Tom Wilson said. "He was truly a pioneer in so many ways. His legacy will live forever."


Davidson was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September and also owned the WNBA's Detroit Shock and Palace Sports and Entertainment.


Pistons players and coaches spoke fondly of Davidson.


"We are all deeply saddened by the news of Mr. D's passing," Pistons coach Michael Curry said after Detroit's overtime victory in Toronto.


Spurned in his bids to buy the NFL's Detroit Lions and NHL's Detroit Red Wings, Davidson became majority owner of the Pistons in 1974 and acquired the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999.


Davidson was born Dec. 5, 1922, in Detroit. He ran track at the University of Michigan, played football in the Navy during World War II, and was an inaugural inductee into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Davidson earned a law degree and practiced for three years before taking over a wholesale drug company and rescuing it from bankruptcy. He later did the same with a surgical supply company and then with his family's Guardian Glass Co., Guardian Industries' predecessor.

In 1997, the Council of Michigan Foundations honored Davidson for his lifelong philanthropic efforts locally, nationally, and internationally.

Services are scheduled for Tuesday at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, MI, according to the Ira Kaufman Chapel Funeral Home.