Detroit NBA legends gather for a cause - rehabbing St. Cecilia's Gym

The basketball stars aligned Friday night at the Henry Ford Museum. Detroit basketball legends came together to honor some of the greats raising money for a good cause.

Many say it was bigger than basketball.

"We came together to pay homage to one of the greatest players to play the game of basketball here in the City of Detroit, my idol, the reason I wear the No. 44 is because of George Gervin," said Derrick Coleman, president of the NBA Retired Players Association Detroit Chapter.

Pistons stars of today and the past, mixed and mingled at the Henry Ford Museum, celebrating basketball legends George Gervin and the late Sam Washington.

"I just felt that it was time for us to start giving our guys their flowers," Coleman said.

And pay homage to a place many of them called home: the historic St. Cecilia's Gym located at Stearns and Livernois.

"My favorite story of St. Cecilia was with Spencer Haywood," Coleman said. "We’re at (NBA) all-star weekend one year and he told me that Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson was on his team at St. Cecilia and I’m like ‘Wow.’"

"I mean I spent many days there, not just as a kid," said Greg Kelser, former MSU great and Pistons standout. "But when I got in high school, in college, and the pros, I would still come back to St. Cecilia because that’s where the competition was."

Kelser says part of the proceeds raised at the dinner event will go toward repairing St. Cecilias, a project the Pistons undertook a few years ago.

Pershing and MSU great Steve Smith, center, gathers with other Detroit hoops legends at The Henry Ford.

Pershing and MSU great Steve Smith, center, gathers with other Detroit hoops legends at The Henry Ford.

"It’s legendary where all of us grew up playing in as a kids and you know that mission that Earl Cureton was on, to really go and really revitalize 'The Saint,'" he said.

Cureton, who worked as a Pistons community ambassador,  passed away on February 4. He had helped oversee the project.

Coleman says he is determined to finish what Cureton started.

"He's been a big brother to all of us," Coleman said. "You know it was so sad that I was just talking to him that night. You know we were laughing because he had just left dinner with (James) Buddah Edwards and Vinny (Johnson) and they were talking about getting a table for this event."

Coleman says he doesnt know how much money will be raised, but every dollar will be put to good use.

"St. Cecilia is in need of some refurbishment - a lot, in fact," Kelser said. "And it’s going to take a lot of money to do it. This is a small step in that direction."

The plan is to transform the gym at St. Cecilia's and turn it into a world-class sports facility, but also include a community center that will offer mentorship and tutoring.

Former NBA all-star and Northwestern great Derrick Coleman.

Former NBA all-star and Detroit Northern great Derrick Coleman.