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Jeff Bower charged with turning vision into reality for Pistons

New Pistons general manager Jeff Bower discussed how he will work together with Stan Van Gundy to rebuild the franchise.

Dude, where's the mustache?
Dude, where's the mustache?
NBAE / Getty Images

Two self-made basketball lifers sat at the microphones in Auburn Hills detailing how they were going to create something new together. Sitting in his first press conference as the new Pistons general manager Jeff Bower called it the "Piston way."

But that way will be defined by the man who hired him, a friend and admirer for more than a quarter century in Stan Van Gundy who wields the power not just as head coach but also as president of basketball operations in Detroit.

Bower was here, he said, "trying to connect the dots."

"[My job is to] take Stan's vision and the vision of ownership and help put that in an executable fashion." -Pistons GM Jeff Bower

"[My job is to] take Stan's vision and the vision of ownership and help put that in an executable fashion," Bower said.

He will do this by building up the basketball operations with new personnel, and he will do that by communicating a unified message on a daily basis and running the day-to-day operations of the franchise in service of the No. 1 goal -- winning.

It's a task Van Gundy is sure Bower is up for.

"Jeff knows the NBA inside out," Van Gundy said. "I've always had a tremendous respect for people who have had to work their way up the ladder."

Bower been a scout, an assistant, a head coach and a general manager.

"He's done almost everything at the NBA level," Van Gundy said, adding that what impressed him most during the interview process was that it was clear Bower was, like him, thirsty to learn more and figure out how to do things better.

"He's done almost everything at the NBA level."-Stan Van Gundy on Bower

It's not the only thing the two men have in common. A friendship was forged between the two 25 years ago when Van Gundy was an assistant at Fordham University and Bower was an assistant at Marist. The two bonded over long recruiting trips in empty gyms to watch lower level Division 1 prospects. Today, both talked about the joy they felt as the other made it higher and higher up the ranks, Van Gundy with the Miami Heat and Bower with the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets.

But filling this job was more about friendship. It was about winning.

"If Jeff Bower wasn't the best person for this job, he wouldn't be sitting here now," Van Gundy said, lest anyone think otherwise considering the other names of interviewees were those of close Van Gundy friends Otis Smith and Stu Jackson.

And the hiring of Bower had an added benefit, Van Gundy said. It was the first major project in the Pistons unique new organizational structure that features Van Gundy serving roles as both head coach and president of basketball operations.

Even in his own press conference Van Gundy stressed that it wasn't really about power but about streamlining communication and making sure everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goal. The GM search appears to be that process finally put into action.

"This was a very thorough and collaborative search," Van Gundy said between himself, Bob Wentworth and Phil Wentworth of Platinum Equity, and owner Tom Gores.

"To see how everybody worked together, the level of support there was both ways, really gave me a great feeling that this is going to be a collaboration that will have great success."

That was especially true of Gores, who Van Gundy spoke with on the phone every day during the search, and who challenged Van Gundy to think of all angles and ever contingency as the group continued to evaluate candidates.

Next on the docket for both Bower and Van Gundy is a daunting list of dots to connect. The two must prepare for the NBA draft, evaluate every player on the team, figure out who fits and who doesn't, explore trade options and figure out what to do in free agency.

And while Van Gundy is pegged as the ultimate decider, he downplayed that power, continually stressing that he's more interested in building a collaborative unit and that Bower will be the "primary guy" on a day-to-day basis, and will be the one talking about deals and evaluating players.

But it helps that the two have the same vision for how that evaluation should go. Both talked about taking talent that fits together well and create a cohesive whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

That's the vision anyway, now it's time to make it a reality. To create "the Pistons way."