The Detroit Pistons announced today that they will honor Matt Dobek, who spent nearly 30 years working behind the scenes leading the team's public relations department, by re-naming the press room in his honor. The team's official press release:
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Detroit Pistons announced today that they will name the press room at The Palace of Auburn Hills "The Matt Dobek Press Room" in tribute to the long-time public relations vice president during a special pregame dedication at 5:30 p.m. on January 20, 2013 when the Pistons host the Boston Celtics.
Dobek's career with the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment spanned nearly 30 years, beginning in 1981 and full-time from 1983-2010. He was named Outstanding Public Relations Director for the NBA's Eastern Conference by a national vote of writers and broadcasters in 1986 and guided media relations efforts for the organization through three NBA Championships (1989, 1990, 2004), 11 Eastern Conference Finals appearances (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008) and nine Central Division crowns. Dobek assisted USA Basketball in media coordination for the 1992 USA Men's Basketball Team (the original "Dream Team") that competed in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and was coached by former Pistons' head coach Chuck Daly.
"A big part of our efforts to revitalize this organization have focused on developing and strengthening relationships within the local community - that includes engaging our former players, media and community leaders," said Dennis Mannion, CEO of Palace Sports and Entertainment and the Pistons. "Through those conversations we have come to understand the depth in which Matt Dobek connected with many of these people. Given those connections we feel it is important to honor his career in a meaningful way, and, with the support of the Dobek family, naming the press room at The Palace as ‘The Matt Dobek Press Room' is a lasting way to acknowledge his work."
In addition to the special dedication that will begin at 5:30 p.m. inside the press room at The Palace, the NBA will present the Dobek family with the Splaver/McHugh "Tribute to Excellence" Award which is given annually by the NBA Public Relations Directors' Association to a current or former member of the NBA Public Relations family who has demonstrated an outstanding level of performance and service during his or her career. Dobek was named the award recipient in 2010.
It's a classy tribute to a loyal employee -- it's just a shame that it's coming so late. Dobek was unceremoniously fired in 2010 (reportedly without receiving a severance package) during the front office upheaval of the Karen Davidson/Alan Ostfield era. Several weeks later, he committed suicide. He was 51 years old.
Sports Illustrated heavyweight Jack McCallum wrote a touching tribute following his death, as did Michael Rosenberg of the Free Press.