8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - September 27, 2004
By Daniel Bremmer Daily Sports Editor
The Larry O'Brien Trophy, better known as the NBA champi-
onship trophy, has never been paraded around by an NBA cham-
Normally, an overzealous fan wouldn't be able to lift the trophy
over his head, and a little kid wouldn't be able to nearly knock the
trophy offofits podium.
But all that has changed. Thanks to the Detroit Pistons and Palace
Sports & Entertainment, the O'Brien Trophy is making its way around
the state of Michigan, gving fans a chance to mingle with the Pistons'
newest piece of hardware.
And on Thursday, the trophy made an appearance on campus along
with Dave Wieme, director of strategic communications for Palace Sports &
Entertainment, who has been touring the state with the trophy for the past two
Wieme brought the trophy, which was presented to the Pistons after their NBA
championship in June, to the Business School for a mass informational meeting of
Future Leaders in Sports and Entertainment, a Business School club. Thursday's
stop was one of nearly 150 throughout Michigan for the O'Brien Trophy.
The event was organized by the club's co-founders, Business School senior Ethan
Goodman - who interned with Palace Sports & Entertainment this summer - and
LSA senior Scott Warheit.
"(Thursday was) a small pocket, sure -50 to 100 people,' Wieme said. "But, all of
those little small pockets add up to those 100,000 people we touched over the summer.
This year marks the first time that the NBA championship trophy has been prominently
displayed during the summer following a team's championship season. The idea to take the
trophy on a tour of Michigan was borrowed largely from another prominent Detroit franchise
-the Red Wings.
Every year, the Stanley Cup - hockey's championship trophy - is given to a player on the
championship team for a total of 72 hours. That player can do whatever he wants with the trophy.
In past years, stories have ranged from players baptizing children in the bowl on top of the trophy, to
stories of the cup being left unattended on the streets of New York City.
Executives in the Pistons front office decided the plan to tour the trophy around the state would be a
good one for the Pistons. They proposed the idea to the NBA, which supported it. Soon, the trophy was
on its way to its first stop in Traverse City.
"Around Detroit, during the summer (after a Red Wings title), you'll see the cup," Wieme said. "It's
at a bar, it's at Metro Beach, it's on the back of a jet ski with Steve Yzerman, its at the bottom of Brendan
Shanahan's pool, its driving around with Kris Draper in the back of his car - stuff like that. I saw that as a
way to keep the Red Wings on the top of mind. I thought to myself, why don't we do the same thing with the
Larry O'Brien Trophy. It's never been done before (in the NBA)."
While most stops on the trophy's tour went smoothly, not every event went completely according to plan.
In the middle of the summer, the trophy made an appearance at the Ann Arbor Arts Festival. Wieme had a
prior engagement and sent Goodman and another intern with the trophy to the event.
After the event, the interns gave Wieme the trophy back, but two things were different - the net was
coming off the base, and the ball on top was spinning.
Wieme contacted a jewelry specialist who referred him to a trophy maker in Detroit.
After a quick-fix - involving an exacto-knife and a pair of rusty pliers-the trophy
maker was able to tighten the bolt on the underside of the trophy. The only
evidence of the repair is a small, black patch on the black felt of the
bottom of the trophy, from where the repair was made.
So what is the best part of the job for Wieme?
Observing individual fans' reactions to see-
ing the trophy.
"The response you get,
the first reaction is,
the real -