Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores on team playing in Paris: ‘Experiences like these can really help strengthen bonds and bring people together’

February 1, 2023 | The Pistons

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores on team playing in Paris: ‘Experiences like these can really help strengthen bonds and bring people together’

PARIS – French Emperor Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, ordered the construction of a new opera house in 1861.

Fourteen years later – after the fall of the French Empire in 1870 – the Palais Garnier opened.

The gorgeous building has become one of the most famed venues in the world and it’s the setting of Gaston Leroux’s notable book, The Phantom of the Opera.

The Detroit Pistons experienced the wonders of the venue when players, executives, team staff and family members gathered for a team dinner one evening during the team’s time in Paris. It was a featured activity leading up to the game against the Chicago Bulls. Earlier that day, the Pistons took a team photo in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The game was the primary business of the week. Pistons point guard Killian Hayes getting the opportunity to play in front of fans in his home country was another main theme of the week.

But there was another benefit. The Pistons’ young players were exposed to a different culture, which was a major reason the organization lobbied the NBA to have the Pistons play in Paris.

Before a practice session, Pistons veteran point guard Cory Joseph reflected on the week’s proceedings. Joseph, 31, was born in Toronto and has traveled to Europe many times. He recalled his first time visiting the continent when he was playing youth basketball for Canada. He added that he had been to Palais Garnier previously.

But in seeing his young teammates experience Parisian culture for the first time, it remined him of his first time in France.

“It’s very important to build life experiences,” Joseph said. “I feel like the more experiences you can have in your life, the more open-minded you’ll be, and I think it’ll shape you in ways that you could have never imagined.  

“Basketball has done so much for me in allowing me to do these things like travel. A lot of these players on our team, it’s their first time to Europe, not even Paris, so it’s an unbelievable experience, something that they’ll be telling their kids one day. They’ll tell their brothers or family, mothers, dads, or whatever who haven’t been, they’ll be telling them, and maybe entice them to go.”

Paris represents ‘great opportunity’ for Detroit Pistons

After years of playing exhibitions and regular-season games overseas, the NBA created the international series of contests called NBA Global Games in 2013. Since then, the NBA typically hosts at least one regular season game overseas per season.

The game against the Bulls was the Pistons’ first international trip since playing the Dallas Mavericks in Mexico City in December 2019. In 2013, the Pistons faced the New York Knicks in London. The Pistons also played in two international exhibition games in the past.

The Pistons have a young team and one of those youngsters, Hayes, is a possibility for the French national team when the country hosts the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. So it was a suitable time to expose the team to French culture.

“It’s a great opportunity for our players and coaches,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said. “For some of our guys, this might be the first time they’ve travelled to Europe. Especially with a young team, experiences like these can really help strengthen bonds and bring people together.”

Gores also told The Associated Press at the opera house: “I think in general, whether it’s business or basketball, bringing families together is most important to us. For us as a culture, that’s what means the most.”

Gores OK’d including wives and significant others on the trip, which Pistons coach Dwane Casey revealed before the team left Detroit.

“My hat is off to (staff) for organizing it, and also to Tom Gores for allowing guys’ families to be able to come,” Casey said. “That’s the big part of ownership, giving us the resources to allow kids and wives and girlfriends. That’s his commitment to the organization. I thank him because a lot of teams don’t have that privilege.” 

The team arrived Monday morning. After a day of rest and shopping, a team photo was taken at the Eiffel Tower. On Tuesday, elegantly dressed Pistons players, staffers and significant others gathered at the Palais Garnier. They were joined by Gores and his family. An opera singer and ballet dancers entertained while the players took selfies and shared their experiences to social media. “That was a dope moment for us as a team,” Ivey said. “There is a lot of history behind that place. And it was even more great that I was with my Pistons family and teammates. I was lucky I got to do that.”

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