Detroit, wake the fck up! It’s refreshing to hear someone talk honest after the last 3 days of republican National Convention propaganda.
Burchie, thank you.
Q: OK. Who’s the best player (you’ve hired)?
A: I’d say the best player we ever drafted was Isiah Thomas.
Q: Can you say anything — and I recognize it’s been a complex relationship over the years — about the falling out you two had at the end of his playing career?
A: Well, I was very, very close to Isiah, and there were times he was almost like a son. But, because of his background, um … I told him he had to change — you know, coming from where he came from. I said, “You’ve got it made now. Don’t keep doing those things that you’ve been doing.” I won’t tell you what they are. But he couldn’t change.
Q: How did it heal?
A: One day I decided — this was about five years ago — that there’s only one guy that I’m really not friendly with. So I called Isiah up, and I said Isiah (chuckling) — before I go to my grave — you know, whenever I do — I want you and I to be friends.
Q: Speaking of coaching, let me ask you about a few coaches. Larry Brown. What can you tell me about him?
A: Well, Larry Brown is not what he appears to be. And he’s built a reputation for himself based on his own PR people. He’s not what he appears to be.
Q: Do you find it interesting having to merge your background — a white, Jewish businessman — with a sport where most of your players are African American and many from the inner city?
A: To be perfectly honest with you, because I’ve been living with this for 30 years or more, I don’t see color. I don’t distinguish color anymore, which is a good thing. Thirty years ago, I might have. But by being with the players, getting to know them, if you asked me do we have a white player on the team, I couldn’t tell you — well, I could tell you, but it wouldn’t make any difference. I get to know the personality much more than the color of the skin. Color means nothing.
Q: Do you think that given the state of the auto businesses Detroit has any chance of being a major city again?
A: I doubt it. I don’t think it was ever a major city, strictly because so much depended on the automotive business.
Q: So what is the future for Detroit?
A: Well, I think there are certain centers such as Ann Arbor which are growing and have a future. I’m not pessimistic about it. I think the damage has already been done. I’m hoping the city of Detroit will clean up and get on a positive note. I think the number of people who have moved out of the city may have peaked and we’ll find enough other types of businesses that will support generally the area in general. … Hopefully the motion picture deal will have some affect. But I think you’re gonna find a little bit here and a little bit there. It will gradually stabilize.
Q: What about the auto business?
A: It doesn’t look good. That’s one area where you have to be pessimistic.
Q: Are you a happy man?
Q: All day long?
A: Nobody is happy all day long. But I’m a positive person.
Q: What have you found, in general, makes a person happy?
A: Whatever you accomplish. Your accomplishments.