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June 10, 1988 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SPORTS

PISTON
POWER

Oscar Feldman has put time, effort and
money into the Pistons and is now
reaping the returns of his investment

MIKE ROSENBAUM

Sports Writer

S

ome Detroit Pistons' fans
have waited 31 years for
their team to reach the
National Basketball As-
sociation finals. Oscar
Feldman, one of the team's owners,
has only waited 14 years, but his feel-
ings for the team run as deeply as any
fans'.
Owners of pro teams, says
Feldman, "can expect to experience a
whole gamut of emotions, running
from peaks to valleys, from dispair to
hope. Over the 14 years that we've
owned the team we've had all those
and more. So I'd say now, after 14
years, we've really reached the pin-
nacle which, hopefully, will come to
full fruition this season, hopefully
with the gaining of the world cham-
pionship."

Feldman is one of 11 partners who
purchased the team from Fred Zollner
in 1974. Feldman is a long-time friend
and business associate of Bill David-
son, who is the principal partner. The
two met as University of Michigan
undergrads 46 years ago.
In 1951, Feldman was working in
the office of the chief counsel of the
Internal Revenue • Service in
Washington. He journeyed to Detroit
to give Davidson his opinion on a
business deal. Davidson eventually
convinced Feldman to move to Detroit
and join him in the acquistion of the
Frank W. Kerr wholesale drug
company.
The two often spoke about buying
a pro team. They explored the
possibility of buying the National
Football League expansion team in
Tampa Bay, Fla., but dropped the idea
when they learned the Pistons might
be available.

Other than Davidson, Feldman is
the most active of the team's owners.
He served as general manager for two
seasons, 1975-76 and 1976-77. As GM,
Feldman relied on his "team" of
basketball men to help him make
decisions about player personnel. "My
function really was to put that team
together and then execute decisions
that would be made in concert with,
hopefully, a good staff."
Washington are among seven col-
While Feldman received some
legians picked for the U.S. national public criticism because he was not a
team by the U.S. Tennis Association. full-time basketball expert, it was
Team members will play in profes- under his term as GM that the
sional tournaments this summer and Pistons won their first playoff series
will have their play monitored by the since the team moved to Detroit,
USTA year-round.
beating Milwaukee two games to one
Goldberg was 34-11 overall this in 1977. "I remember how euphoric
season. He was 23-6 in dual meets I was after winning the Milwaukee
and 7-1 in Big 10 meets, including a series;' he recalls. "I think you have
15-4 overall mark at No. 1 singles and to be a jock in order to appreciate the
a 4-0 Big 10 record at No. 1. He and euphoria that goes with winning in
partner Brad Koontz were 16-2 in a championship series.
doubles.
"I remember kissing Bob Lanier,
Goldberg "had an outstanding with beads of persperation coming
season;' said Eisner, particulary down his face while he was facing a
because the Connecticut native had to camera. I can remember running out
follow up last season's success. "It's on the street, climbing a telephone
tough when you're NCAA runner-up pole;' he laughs. "Stupid reactions,
last year. It puts pressure on you corn- but nevertheless only understandable
ing back for your junior by people who are involved in sports."
year." Michigan was 26-5 this
After that season, Feldman and
season. The Wolverines were 9-0 in Davidson decided to hire a full-time
the Big 10 and won the Big 10 general manager, Bob Kauffman. A
tournament.
series of poor personnel decisions —
Eisner said that Goldberg is which Feldman can recite by heart —
"definitely" returning to Michigan for soon reduced the Pistons to their
his senior season. Goldberg plans to pre-1974 status as league doormats.
turn professional after his senior year. But the organization learned from its

Goldberg Loses In NCAA

MIKE ROSENBAUM

Sports Writer

U

niversity of Michigan junior
Dan Goldberg was upset in
the first round of the Na-
tional Collegiate Athletic Association
individual tennis championships last
month. Goldberg, last year's NCAA
runner-up, lost to Eric Amend of the
University of Southern California,
7-6, 4-6, 6-4.
Goldberg, the seventh seed, "just
did not come up with the level of
match that he had been;' said U-M
coach Brian Eisner.
One week earlier, in the NCAA
team championships, Goldberg beat
the nation's top-ranked player, Rob
Weiss of Pepperdine. Weiss went on to
win the individual title last weekend.
The win over Weiss, who only lost
three matches this season, "certain-
ly shows the caliber of Dan's play and
what he's capable of doing;' said
Eisner.
For the second year in a row,
Goldberg was named All-American.
He and Wolverine teammate Milivai

44

FRIflAY ,111NF 10. 1988

.

Oscar Feldman

mistakes. They stopped mortgaging
the future: trading first-round draft
choices for big-name players who were
past their prime. They eventually
hired Jack McCloskey as general
manager and built the team which is
now playing in the NBA finals.
Feldman, the team's general
counsel, is involved in all legal
aspects of the Pistons, including con-
tracts, as well as accounting and
financial planning. And he enjoys the
games.
"I am a fan," he says. "It's been
one of my favorite sports throughout
my years, one I participated in
myself" in high school and on college
intramural teams. "I get caught up in
the euphoria and I'm as vocal a fan
as anybody sitting in the arena — as
any of those sitting near me will at-
test to."
Sometimes, being a fan has its
dangers, particularly if you are a
Pistons fan sitting in the Boston
Gardens during a Pistons-Celtics
playoff series. "Bill Davidson and I
went in for each of the games last
year and I finally had to put cotton in
my ears to ward off the epithets I
heard thrown at us."
Feldman feels the Pistons' players
have "great chemistry. I just have a
respect for all of them. I think all of
them are selfless enough to want to
make a team contribution and not
necessarily build their own stats —
although everybody wants sufficient
(playing) time to negotiate his next
contract. He wants stats for that pur-

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