New York Knicks fans are highly opinionated and have plenty of subjects they can disagree on. However, there is one subject that the vast majority can agree on, Isiah Thomas is bad. Thomas was one of the best point guards to ever play in the NBA but as a coach and executive he's been nothing but a failure anywhere he's worked. For some reason he and James Dolan have a special relationship which keeps Knicks fans wondering when the shoe will drop and Isiah will once again work for the organization. Although the rumors of Isiah's status never seem to stop he now claims he'd rather work for ESPN than for the Knicks again.
Isiah Thomas attended college at Indiana where he played from 1979-81 until he was drafted second overall in the 1981 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons where he played from 1981-94. Thomas became part owner and Executive Vice President for the Toronto Raptors after retiring in 1994. He left the organization in 1998 after a dispute with new management over the franchise's direction and his role with the team.
Thomas then started a broadcasting career where he was a successful television commentator for the NBA on NBC. In 1998 Thomas became the owner of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) until 2000. The league was forced into bankruptcy and folded in 2001. In 2000, Thomas was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. From 2000 to 2003, Thomas coached the Indiana Pacers.
In 2003 Thomas was hired as the New York Knicks In 2000 as President of Basketball Operations. He was an overall failure, trading away multiple draft picks and having some of the highest payrolls in the NBA. After firing Larry Brown, Thomas became the Knicks head coach in 2006. Despite his poor history at decision making, Dolan continued to trust Thomas and watched as he continued to trade away draft picks and acquire high priced long-term contracts. Thomas' time as Knicks coach ended in 2008 when he was said to be reassigned. His overall winning percentage as head coach of the Knicks was .341 which is fifth lowest in team history. Thomas' new role with the organization was as a consultant to President Donnie Walsh. He was banned from player contact and interacted with Dolan much more than Walsh.
In 2009 Thomas was hired as the head coach at Florida International University (FIU). On August 6, 2010, Thomas announced that he was taking a job as consultant to the New York Knicks despite head coaching job at FIU. However, on August 11 it was announced that working with the Knicks while being a college coach violated NBA by-laws. Thomas was fired by FIU on April 6, 2012.
According to Justin Terranova of the New York Post, Thomas is now looking at a return to the NBA spotlight as he attempts to land a job with ESPN.
“I've auditioned for the job, if they pick me that would be great,” Thomas said. “I would love to be a part of the show and give my thoughts and opinions on championship basketball and NBA basketball and life in general in the NBA.”
Thomas said his “preference” would be to land that job, as opposed to return to the Knicks organization. Dolan requested a lunch with the team’s former president and coach in early September, which set off speculation of a return to the organization. It would be a widely unpopular move considering Thomas’ failures with the organization, but nothing appears to be imminent.
“Jim Dolan and I had lunch as we often do, and we are very good friends, and we talk from time to time,” Thomas said. “I have great relationships with the organization, so I guess there was some speculation as there's always been about me going back there. And that's where it's at.”
There is no reason why Thomas couldn't be successful again on a television role. He has plenty of basketball knowledge and experience and is an articulate speaker. As long as ESPN doesn't ask him to handle their money the company should be fine. It would be interesting to see Thomas interact with his long time foe Magic Johnson. He and Johnson have been sniping at each other for years all the way back to when Thomas was left off the original Dream Team.
Johnson loves to publicly abuse Thomas for his lack of success as an executive and coach. Thomas loves to downplay Johnson's success as a player because it was with the Los Angeles Lakers. Thomas feels his success was more earned since he and the Detroit Pistons had to work their way up to elite status.
Although the threat of Thomas returning to the Knicks will continue until he and Dolan end their friendship or Thomas gets himself banned from the NBA. However, Knicks fans will all hope ESPN decides to hire Thomas with the hope he enjoys the job and has success and remains in that role. While he remains unemployed he continues to be a threat to the Knicks organization.
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