When former Detroit Pistons Vice President of Public Relations Matt Dobek died on Saturday August 21 at the age of 51, I got sick to my stomach!
Yet, his cause of death is something that I mentally deal with on a daily basis.
Dobek apparently committed suicide just months after losing his job with the Detroit Pistons.
In the past year, not only did Dobek lose his job of 29 years, but the loss of his father, former Pistons Owner William Davidson and Coach Chuck Daly also died and that obviously was too much for him to overcome.
I have known Matt Dobek since 1988. He was the first local Detroit Sports Public Relations Director to grant me credentials when I returned home from college in Florida, and one year in Sports Management in North Carolina.
My first assignment was the 1988 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pontiac Silverdome.
I never missed a big event at the Palace of Auburn Hills when I lived in Detroit.
Those crucial playoff games, finals appearances, ring and retired jersey ceremonies are long long lasting memories.
Dobek made sure I always had my season passes. When I went on road trips, there was never a problem.
There was a time when I took a cross country trip that lasted over 35 days, spanned over 10,000 miles where I drove a rented car which included NBA stops in Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, Utah and Indiana.
When these Public Relations Directors needed verification, Matt took care of the situation! There were times when I called him from the road and he told me to relax and drive safely after I told him the project I was working on.
There were other trips to Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami and Orlando where we would talk, hangout at lunch or dinner.
In my eyes, Dobek was the Most Misunderstood person I've ever known!
While he maintained a low-keyed demeanor and wasn't the most outgoing person, Matt was cordial, cooperative, had a calmness about himself but more importantly was always there when you needed him!
The last time I saw Matt was in Miami in April of 2009 just shortly before Daly died of Cancer. Chuck lived in Jupiter, FL and Matt was not only his friend but his publicist. Matt was working the Pistons and Heat game and must have known that Daly's health was near its terminal stages thus it was a great opportunity for them to spend time together.
After Detroit won its second championship in 1989-90, Matt presented me with a plaque with a piece of the Pistons floor at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
It proudly hangs in my hallway in Deerfield Beach, Florida!
He told me that you deserve it!
Matt and his staff treated me with respect! They were like another family to me, My Basketball Family.
If you were loyal to them, acted professional, did an honest job but covered them not only when they were winning but also losing, they showed their appreciation. They used to send Christmas Cards every year to myself and Sports Editor George Eichorn.
They were a class act and that's attributed from the man in charge which was undoubtedly, Matt. It was easy to continue to write about this team, from Matt, to Tom Wilson, Mr. Davidson, etc... That's why I loved covering this team.
But as sadness about Matt's untimely death continues, plus lingering questions on why he committed suicide by hanging himself, I found that after this happened, we are more alike than I thought we were.
Matt and I like to keep things bottled up inside.
We don't like to burden our friends & family with personal and financial hardships.
Matt and I are proud individuals!
Therefore, I'm not surprised he committed suicide!
Everybody has their own set of problems and I won't add to them!
Although I'm 47, since I've relocated to South Florida in 2002, I've watched myself age by 53 years!
While I've enjoyed many great sports memories connected with my passion in the media, the inability to find a constant career in South Florida has been a tremendously huge lingering battle.
What I've discovered in this transient Sun-Belt Melting Pot during this process is that I'm over qualified for the majority of the positions I've applied for.
While there are dishonest people everywhere, there are more scams and cons in South Florida than any other place that I've ever been connected with.
I've seen human resource people that are late to interviews, fail to show up and don't hire you because they're concerned you'll eventually replace them.
I even had a youngster in his early 20's interview me and one of his first questions during the interview was, "What is your favorite toy?" He was looking at his list of questions in the back of his desk and just pulled it out of his drawer.
To me, this would be enough to drive anyone nuts!
My intensity to land a good career and competitiveness to be the best when I landed the position has led to numerous sleepless nights.
Have to admit many of these interviews could be book material down the road and I have been real calm the majority of the time. Sponging these experiences is priceless but it does nothing to help ones checkbook.
I even had a friend say to me one time that we can't even get a job we don't want. Go figure.
But like any athlete or person, I hate to lose and despise failure!
To complicate matters, I suffered a major lower back injury in 2007 and physically haven't been the same.
In June of 2009, I had back surgery to remove a disk and had two cages inserted to provide me with support. For the past 14 months, there have been major travel restrictions and I haven't been able to lift more the 10 pounds. Thus, a bad job market became worse.
I'm still on the mend and while there has been progress in the recovery, there seems to be no end in sight to a lawsuit that could take years to resolve but won't solve the hardships I've experienced financially, physically and mentally.
Besides the injury and poor South Florida job market, dealing with criticism by family members at meals, over the phone that make accusations that I'm lazy because they don't understand the complexity of how difficult it is to deal with liars and snakes on a daily basis is enough to drive anyone over the edge!
It would even frustrate Albert Einstein!
This entire situation makes it difficult to create a personal life with a potential significant other.
As I define Matt Dobek's legacy, there are certain ways to view things.
1) I've always had the belief that you "Live Everyday As If It Were Your Last."
2) It isn't Quantity, but Quality!
Todays job market has no loyalty. When I entered the work force 31 years ago, two weeks notice was a common courtesy. Now it's two seconds.
To work 29 years at one job and not be given severance pay as was the case with Matt, was idiotic. I've worked in industry's where politics prevented me from landing in other positions.
That's why Matt rejoined his other support system.
I don't know what God has in store for me.
But I do know that when my time is over, there is an All-Star Team waiting for me when I pass away.
In addition to Dobek, who was one of the greatest public relations people that I've ever worked with, there is Ernie Harwell, Mr. Davidson, whom I became very friendly with at Pistons games and is ironically buried in the same cemetery that all of my family is in back in Michigan, Daly, whom I enjoyed the time working with during the Bad Boys Era.
Add family members Terry Kroll, Morris & Celia Kroll, Sidney & Dorothy Caplan, Sidney Jacobs, Sidney & Sophie Jacobs-Morganroth along with other close people such as Fred Cullen, Ronald Grant & Peter Bluesten; this is a group that I miss dearly!
As most of these recent blogs turn into death related stories, it's hard to believe that Dobek has joined the likes of Harwell, John Wooden, George M Steinbrenner and Ralph Houk as painful deaths of 2010 that I've been associated with.
We haven't even reached Labor Day.
While watching a Pistons game will never be the same again without Matt, once again, he's taught me that it's not how many years you live, but how good they are!
The one signal that I'll know when My Life Is Over is I will not Live and Sell My Heart, Soul, Ethics, Integrity and Wallet Short "To Exist."
When the time comes that "I Live To Exist" then I'll Flip the Switch and "Non-Exist!"
For those who know me, while I'm glad I've accomplished a lot, enjoyed the memories we've shared together, I have no fear when my life comes to a halt as I'll one day reunite with My other All-Star Team.
I will never be trapped into a situation just to hang around a few extra years!
Meanwhile, Matt, you'll always be viewed as not only a colleague, but a great friend, and I hope you rest in peace.
I imagine one day we'll be at court-side one at the old Richfield Coliseum in suburban Cleveland watching Daly lead his Pistons to a victory in a nationally televised game talking about the "Bad Boys."
Thanks again for the piece of the championship floor and being a championship person!
I'll miss you greatly!
Scott Morganroth's blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org