While Isiah Thomas will go down as one of the best point guards in NBA history, he will also go down as someone who destroyed the Knicks for a stretch of time. While he was in a number of different positions with the Knicks and he was trying to juggle a lot of things at once Isiah Thomas was the man responsible for putting the Knicks in salary cap purgatory with horrible signings and overpaying role players. It was just recently that Donnie Walsh was able to help New York get out of the rut Thomas put the franchise in. It remains to be seen if any franchise will be willing to re-hire Thomas and he has a college job right now, but for one of the best point guards in NBA history, coaching in college is probably not what he envisioned following his career.
Isiah Thomas joined 106.7 the Fan in Washington D.C.to talk about Dallas winning the NBA Championship, whether or not he thinks LeBron James will win an NBA Championship, whether or not he wants to return to the NBA at some point in the near future, how devastating it would be to go through a lockout in the NBA, and if he would do anything different if he had the chance.
Did Dallas win the NBA Championship or did Miami lose it?
“You probably have to say it’s 50/50 because when the season started with Wade, James, and Bosh we were all really curious about how that would turn out and play out this year. I think the whole world was watching to see if this could work. Under the radar, Dallas was building a great team in the West. They swept the Lakers without Caron Butler and they won in the Finals with (Brendan) Haywood being injured. They have an excellent team and then you have to look at the work that Dirk has done over the years. He’s a guy who has competed at the highest level against David Robinson and Tim Duncan for most of his career so the experience he has and he got playing against those guys and being eliminated a lot by San Antonio and fighting and battling those wars. Once he got back to the Finals again you could see that he was ready and brought a totally different mindset to the Finals than he did the first time around.”
Do you expect LeBron James to win a Championship eventually?
“You would think that it’s just a matter of time because he and Wade are such great players. Any time you have those two guys on the same team you would have to think that it’s just a matter of time. When you look back over history, history has a way of really telling the truth and sometimes in the present we tend to forget what happened historically. When I first got into the league I remember watching Magic Johnson dribble out the shot clock in Boston and being called Tragic Johnson. Do you remember how he was one of the most vilified and disliked people because he fired the coach. So Magic went through a lot of turmoil before he became loved again by everyone. When you look at history in terms of the players having had success and they fall down and get back up. Very rarely does anyone go through this league where they just have a perfect ascension to the top. They always rise a little then get knocked down, rise a little then get knocked down, rise a little and get knocked down. Even Jordan, he had his ups and downs and his battles with the media, the press, and everything else. He had his ups and down in the league. LeBron isn’t going through anything different than most superstars have gone through in this league. The only thing that’s different is the technology. You have the power of the internet and technology, which has changed the information source and the information flow and has really invited everyone into the conversation. Everyone brings their own opinions but they don’t bring the historical facts to go along with those opinions.”
Whether or not he wants to get back into the NBA:
“I definitely think any coach, player, everyone aspires to ascend and get to the highest level. At some point in time I would like to be back in the NBA but right now I’m very happy where I’m at at FIU in terms of coaching the kids, dealing with the youth that I’m currently dealing with. You never say never about anything I’ve learned in life so you just keep your doors open and you just keep trying to do good work.”
How devastating a lockout would be for the NBA:
“It would be devastating but I do think the league and the NBA will always come back because the culture of our country, basketball is enrooted in our culture, football is enrooted in our culture, so is baseball, sports is enrooted in our culture so we will always bounce back. Now how long will it take for it to bounce back? That’s the question.”
What he would like to have back during his time in the NBA:
“There definitely are some mistakes I made as a GM and probably the biggest mistakes I made was one of the signings. Jerome James came off a good playoff season with Seattle and he was talked about as one of the up-and-coming centers and we signed him to a long-term deal that didn’t pan out. He was injured most of the time, wasn’t in shape, and his health didn’t hold up, but most GM’s have one of those guys on their roster where if they could do it over they would take back. The second thing honestly is I had so much on my plate. In New York I think it was impossible for me to do a good job the last year. Being the coach, the GM, and the President, and holding those three jobs in New York and at that particular time, there was just no way that I could’ve done a good job being the coach of the team the last year. My mother was very ill, we were coming off a very turbulent summer, and I just wasn’t in a good mental frame of mind to do as good of a job as I normally had done at any of those jobs.”