Pistons' Van Gundy: 'Basketball belongs in the city'

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy

Auburn Hills – Another luminary in favor of the Pistons’ transfer to downtown Detroit: Stan Van Gundy.

“Exciting move,” the Pistons head coach said following Wednesday’s shootaround, which preceded tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game against Miami at The Palace.

“I believe Dave Bing has made the point,” Van Gundy continued, referring to the former Detroit mayor and Pistons star from the ‘60s and ‘70s, “that more than any other sport, basketball is a city game. More than any sport, basketball belongs in the city.”

The Pistons announced Tuesday they’ll be moving next season, in tandem with the Red Wings, to Little Caesars Arena, a grand $700-million-plus showplace still under construction. They have not played downtown since the 1970s when Cobo Arena was their home.

Van Gundy conceded not everyone was thrilled with the relocation, particularly those who might have been within a few minutes’ commute of the Palace. But he credited Pistons owner Tom Gores, “who has a great heart for the community,” and agreed fans might earn a happy dividend from a booming Detroit downtown.

Restaurants and bars have been sprouting in the city’s heart, in Corktown, Midtown, and other neighborhoods adjoining the new arena.

“The only thing I’ve heard (from various fans) is there isn’t enough to do here (Palace region) before and after a game," Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy wasn’t so sure a venue with downtown energy would have great influence on free agents the Pistons might court.

“I think a brand new arena is always attractive,” Van Gundy said, “but I don’t want to overblow it. In my experience, it usually comes down to money.”

The Pistons coach had more immediate concerns Wednesday than a 2017 relocation. The Pistons have lost four consecutive games, three by three points or fewer.