Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dan Gilbert. A joke

Over the years I've known a lot of Gilberts. I went to school with a set of twins named Pat and Mike. It was hard to tell them apart, until it became obvious one of them was even crazier than the other one. Fast forward a couple years and I had the dubious honor of being in court to support a friend that had to appear before a "hanging judge" named Alice. That was for some trivial trafic violation like getting pulled over for doing 140 MPH in his 1969 427 Corvette down Woodward. Yeah, even though I was only the passenger, we were both underage, and had tossed back a few longnecks, but DAMN -- that car was fast. For whatever reason, Alice didn't seem to be impressed in court. I think she whacked my friend's pee-pee, or wanted to borrow his car. Can't remember for sure how that all worked out.

Then there was a couple of executive editors of the Oakland Press. The first one was named Garry. The current one is named Glenn. Despite the fact they both have an extra consonant in their first name, these men are very smart. As anybody that works for a newspaper well knows, ex-eds are like God. They rule. Unless, of course, the corporate people, in their own infinite wisdom, decide to whack their pee-pees as well. Tough job being an executive editor or owning a 427 Vette. One never knows what might happen next. Someone named Alice might send THEM to the moon with the stroke of a pen.

Which brings me to Dan Gilbert, the head dude of Quicken Loans and the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Obviously, this Gilbert has made a lot of money over the years with whatever it is Quicken Loans does. There was also a company called Rock Financial headed by Gilbert. I knew a few people that took out loans with that outfit, and eventually that's where they found themselves -- right between a rock and a hard place -- losing everything. These might very well be reputable companies but, personally, when I see the name "quick" in anything that has to do with monetary matters, a red flag goes up. Oftentimes, what's quick and easy going in, is costly and painful before it's all over.

Nevertheless, Dan Gilbert recently went public with a statement saying he thinks the Detroit Pistons should move out of their Palace in Auburn Hills and return to somewhere in downtown Detroit. Nevermind new Pistons' owner Tom Gores just shelled out big bucks to have the Palace renovated. And further nevermind that while Gilbert supposedly has a "residence" in the exurbs of Detroit somewhere, this is the same clown who said his Cleveland Cavaliers would win an NBA title before Lebron James would when James dumped Lake Erie and "took his talents" to Miami. Oops. Lebron and company have already won one, and might well win several more.

In the meantime, Gilbert has shown his genius in bringing back a coach named Mike Brown, that couldn't get it done when Lebron was still there, and who also got quickly canned by the Lakers in his next job. And now Brown is returning to a team that is even worse than the Pistons? Incredibly, Mike Brown could have sat back and collected $5 million dollars a year from the Lakers while doing nothing. I don't know about you, but give me five million bucks for a couple years with no responsibilities, and the LAST place I'm going to be is stuck in Cleveland with a hopeless team, NBA head coach or not. I'm going out and seeing parts of the world I've never been to before. Maybe Gilbert and Brown deserve each other in this way.

What's truly laughable is Gilbert's statement that the Pistons should move back to Detroit. After all, the Quicken man says, fans can't appreciate the "downtown experience" when their team has it's arena located out in some god-forsaken place like Auburn Hills. Heaven forbid they should have to walk across a couple hundred yards of asphalt to enter the arena.

While people like Gilbert likely have several different residences, all of which either include highly secure exclusive gated communities, or perhaps a yacht, he seems to have lost sight of the obvious.

Most fans that attend ANY Detroit pro team's games come from the suburbs. The city itself, save for a few very small areas that have been renovated by the likes of Mike Ilitch and Gilbert himself, is for the most part still basically a corrupt, crime-ridden wasteland.

Downtown experience indeed. Yeah, the Fillmore and a couple other joints are pretty cool, but when it comes to shootings, stabbings, car-jackings, muggings, drugs, gangs, and other mayhem that is never far away in Detroit at any time -- coming, going, or just being there -- Auburn Hills still looks pretty good to me.

It's easy for billionaires to talk the talk with the inner city stuff. Yet they're far removed from the reality of actually walking the walk and living it themselves. They have no clue.

For now, methinks owning a team in Cleveland is rather appropriate for the likes of someone like Dan Gilbert. He may own a lot of real estate in Detroit, but he's always played second fiddle to Mike Ilitch. Gilbert's in on the Greektown casino. That gives a whole new meaning to "book em Danno". Cha-ching. But the pizza guy always seems to be a step ahead of him.

Oh well, Toledo isn't that far from Cleveland. If Gilbert wants to see a baseball game, he can always go watch the Mud Hens -- Ilitch's top-ranked minor league team.

Mostly Gilbert just needs to shut up. Though he might well be a shrewd businessman, it seems every time he opens his mouth, the words of a loser come out of it.

Either that, or he sets himself up to be a punch line.

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