Tellem: Like the Pistons in 2004, it's time for us to 'Go to Work' — at the ballot box

Arn Tellem, Special to Detroit Free Press
·3 min read

Back in a time before COVID-19, before the current recession, and before the advent of Zoom calls, Detroit won an NBA championship by upending the Los Angeles Lakers, a team featuring four future Hall of Famers. The year was 2004 and our unheralded group of players called itself the “Goin' To Work” Pistons, and they rallied together to bring down the star-studded Lakers.

Finals MVP Chauncey Billups credited the team’s success on the brotherhood formed and the focus in uniting behind one common goal.

Exterior of the new Henry Ford Health System Detroit Pistons Performance Center in Detroit, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.
Exterior of the new Henry Ford Health System Detroit Pistons Performance Center in Detroit, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.

Well, it’s happening again in Detroit — from now until Nov. 3, at the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center on 690 Amsterdam St. We're inviting registered voters of the city to rally together, become our brothers and sisters, and drop their ballots at our training facility’s election drop box. The effort is part of our partnership with Detroit Votes 2020, a non-partisan initiative that provides voters with information to ensure they can cast a ballot safely, conveniently and securely. We invite Detroiters to visit detroitvotes2020.org to explore options for registering and voting. The site also has locations for satellite voting centers and secure drop boxes throughout the city.

Pistons owner Tom Gores offered the venue for election purposes, to serve as a receiving board and location where residents can register and vote on-site. Gores is also supporting and encouraging our employees to commit their time and actively participate in the election efforts. Many Pistons employees have been trained as poll workers and to further support these efforts, Nov. 3 will be a paid off day for voting and lending support in this vital election. We are also using social media and public service announcements to encourage voter turnout and awareness. And we have hosted live registration events and posted a registration page on our website that integrates directly with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Detroit Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem speaks at the new sports medicine center in the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, Sept. 18, 2019 in Detroit.
Detroit Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem speaks at the new sports medicine center in the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, Sept. 18, 2019 in Detroit.

This commitment is also echoed throughout the NBA and its players, who have stepped up their involvement in social causes following the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The driving forces have been NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Players Association president Chris Paul and LeBron James, the Lakers’ Finals MVP. It was James who launched More Than A Vote, an organization fighting to safeguard Black citizens' voting rights.

James has made clear that when it comes to social issues and the political climate, he will not keep quiet and he is not alone. Fellow players and athletes of every league and level are now using their unique platforms to advocate political activism to confront and address the social justice issues that for too long have been neglected.

It’s time to heal and work to unite the country. The Pistons achieved the impossible in 2004 with unmatched teamwork. Only by coming together can we stop the spread of the coronavirus, rebuild the economy, honestly confront racial and economic inequities, and reestablish the United States as a respected world leader.

It all starts at the ballot box.

Arn Tellem is Vice Chairman of the Detroit Pistons basketball franchise. He joined the Pistons in August 2015 following a distinguished career as one of the top player agents in sports.

Free Press Voter Guide

Welcome to the Detroit Free Press 2020 Voter Guide. The Free Press asked candidates in most of the contested races in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties questions about a host of issues. Enter your address to see what the candidates on your ballot had to say, from U.S. Senate to your local school board. You will only see an accurate ballot if you enter your full address. Your information will not be shared with anyone.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Pistons' Arn Tellem: Time for us to band together — at the ballot box