Born: December 5,1922, in Detroit, Michigan
Died: March 13, 2009
A modern sports pioneer and celebrated success as an NBA franchise owner, William Morris Davidson was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Davidson was majority owner of the National Basketball League's Detroit Pistons from the summer of 1974 until his passing in March 2009. He later owned the WNBA's Detroit Shock, and the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lighting and Pistons won NHL (Stanley Cup) and NBA championships eight days apart in June 2004. Davidson's Pistons also won NBA World Championships in 1989 and 1990. When the Shock won the WNBA title in 2004, it marked the first time in sports history that an owner won championships in three different professional leagues within one year. The Shock won titles again in 2006 and 2008.
At various times, Davidson was also co-owner of the Detroit Fury of the Arena Football League and sole owner of the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League.
He spent lavishly on his franchises, building the state-of-the-art Palace of Auburn Hills (basketball stadium) in 1988 with $90 million of his own money -- making him the first team owner to totally finance his own arena. Davidson also built a state-of-the-art practice facility for his Pistons and Shock, and was the first to purchase a team airplane.
When Bill Davidson died, his Pistons, the franchise he purchased 35 years earlier for $6 million, was valued upwards of $430 million.