Mike Illitch, the owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers, is looking at potentially purchasing the Detroit Pistons.
The founder and owner of Little Caesar's Pizza, Illitch is facing an intriguing step in basically creating a monopoly over Detroit sports if he purchases the Pistons. To others, he could be seen simply as a man who is trying to save the Pistons the way he saved the Red Wings.
When Mike purchased the Red Wings back in 1982, the current 81-year-old inherited a team that was known as "The Dead Wings" struggling for any sense of success.
Since acquiring the Wings, he has been able to put together eight division titles, six President's trophies and the four Stanley Cups won in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008. These teams have been a great showing of sports and winning in the Illitch era. The Detroit Tigers on the other hand, are a different story.
When Illitch became owner of the Tigers in 1992, things became pretty bad until capturing the AL Pennant in 2006. During 12 of his first 13 seasons owning the Tigers, they had a losing record. Bear in mind, that many of these years were before the extravagant contracts of today were common. He had the ability at the time to get great players at reasonable prices.
The Tigers, to be blunt, sucked.
Illitch today, however, pumps money into the team and has seen relative success since. They compete for division titles every year now instead of being the bottom-feeders they were at the start of his run.
Will the Pistons continue to fall as bottom-feeders under Illitch's watch? The thought is that he is thinking of buying the Pistons for producing funding for a new downtown arena for the Red Wings.
He has shown in the past that he is willing to spend to try and make teams better. The Red Wings showed immediate improvement while the Tigers tailspin into mediocrity under him grew. It is any ones guess what happens to the Pistons. We still have to see if he is able to work things out, attain the team, and if he is committed to them.
We know he loves his Red Wings without a doubt. Is there enough room in his heart to commit to all three of these teams? The Pistons are one of the most historic teams in the NBA going back to their Fort Wayne days, and it would be a shame if they do not get the chance to stay relevant.
I am not a man who believes in monopolies; but for the sake of keeping jobs within the city and having an avid sports fan as an owner, I will believe in Mike Illitch as the Pistons owner. He has proved since beginning his Little Caesar's days that he can build a winner. At his age, he can only live for the present and not count on the future. That alone might be the strongest case for me in putting stock in his desire to put money into the Pistons.
There is no window that guarantees he will even be around 10 years from now. I look at this decade to come as his window to push even more into all of his teams. Whether that is through free agency, trades or draft picks. Profits shouldn't be his motive any more; winning should be all that matters. I am hoping for that from Illitch.