I recently blogged on the topic of Pistons GM Joe Dumars, a former guard for Detroit, and the perception that he is a genius. This got me to thinking about his partner in the backcourt for those Pistons championship teams of the late eighties….the great Isiah Thomas.
As you know, in October of this year Isiah Thomas was taken to a New York hospital after being founded unconcious in his home. The incident was ruled as a “accidental overdose of a prescription sleeping pill”. This was just another scar on the post NBA career for Thomas. The real surprise in this particular incident is that he insinuated that his 17 year old daughter was actually the patient. Why he would try to throw his 17 year old daughter under the bus when it could easily be proven otherwise? Furthermore…what the hell happened to Isiah Thomas?
Isiah Thomas has some staggering statistics as a player. He attended Indiana University for two years under Bob Knight. He was on the 1981 National Championship team and was named the Most Outstanding Player for the NCAA tournament that year. He then left and was drafted with second pick of the 1981 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He was a force right away as he made the NBA all rookie team. He continued to dominate at the point throughout his career and even lead the Bash Brothers teams to two championships in the 1988-’89 and 1989-’90 seasons. Here is a rundown of some of his statistics from Basketball-Reference.com:
– NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player (1981)
– NBA All Rookie Team (1982)
– 12x NBA All Star (every year from 1982-1993)
– 3x All-NBA First Team (1984-1986)
– 2x NBA SEcond Team (1983,1987)
– 2x NBA Champion (1989,1990)
– NBA Finals MVP (1990)
– U.S. Olympian (1980…never played because of the boycoot, but, was named to the team)
– J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1987)
He also scored 18,822 points had 9,061 (9.3 pg) Assists and 1,861 Steals in his career. He is the Pistons career leader in the following categories: games played, points, steals and assists. He is fourth all-time NBA in assists.
These are staggering statistics that led to him being chosen as one of the top 50 players of all time for the 50th anniversary team. He was also named to the Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
He retired as a player in 1994. This was when his career did a 180 and took a turn for the worse.
First, he bought in to the expansion Toronto Raptors franchise becoming a part owner and VP. He was run out of town over disagreements with management. He then tried a forray into broadcasting.
The real trouble started when he bought the CBA in 1998. The league later went into bankruptcy and no longer exists. Isiah Thomas has been given a lot of the blame for the leagues demise. The big reason for this is that he turned down a profitable offer from the NBA to turn the CBA into a development league for the NBA. Thomas declined. The NBA later created the NBDL as a farm system for the NBA which basically made the CBA obsolete.
Thomas was then hired on to replace Larry Bird as the head coach for the the Indiana Pacers. This was Isiah’s first try at head coaching and he was given a stacked team. The Pacers had just won the Eastern Conference title and were poised for more success. But, Isiah never got them out of the first round of the playoffs. They had the talent, but Isiah just wasn’t experienced enough for head coaching. It’s hard to believe that he couldn’t get a team with young talent in Ron Artest and Brad Miller and a veteran leader in sharp shooter Reggie Miller out of the first round of the playoffs. This led to him being replaced in Indiana as head coach.
In 2003, he moved on to destroy the New York Knicks franchise, where he was named President of Basketball operations. He also became head coach in 2006. By the time he became head coach in New York he had helped them amass the highest payroll in the entire NBA…..and the 2nd worse record. On top of that, there were allegations of sexual harrasment and racism by a Madison Square Garden employee.
To me, not many have fallen harder than Isiah Thomas after his career as a player ended. I think bad decision after bad decision may have finally taken its toll. He has won chamionships as a player, dazzled fans with his insane ball-handling abilities and could get to the hoop like no other point guard of his time. But, he fell from an NBA All Star (and personally one of my favorite players) to the the brink of death.
He ripped apart franchises and even destroyed an entire league. All of this finally culminated this Fall with him throwing his 17 year old daughter under the bus for his “accidental overdose”. This is a tragic epilogue to an exciting and dominating NBA career, and it should be a warning sign to current NBA players to not bite off more than you can chew when your playing career is over.
[tags]isiah thomas, nba[/tags]