Isiah Lord Thomas III (born April 30, 1961) is an American former basketball player who played professionally for the Detroit Pistons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). A point guard, the 12-time NBA All-Star was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Thomas has also been a professional and collegiate head coach, a basketball executive, and a broadcaster.
Thomas played collegiately for the Indiana Hoosiers, leading them to the 1981 NCAA championship as a sophomore and declaring for the NBA draft. He was taken as the second overall pick by the Pistons in the 1981 NBA draft, and played for them his entire career, while leading the "Bad Boys" to the 1988–89 and 1989–90 NBA championships.
After his playing career, he was an executive with the Toronto Raptors, a television commentator, an executive with the Continental Basketball Association, head coach of the Indiana Pacers, and an executive and head coach for the New York Knicks. He was later the men's basketball coach for the Florida International University (FIU) Golden Panthers for three seasons from 2009 to 2012. In early May 2015, amidst controversy, Thomas was named president and part owner of the Knicks' WNBA sister team, the New York Liberty, subsequent to the re-hiring of Thomas's former Pistons teammate, Bill Laimbeer, as the team's coach.
Isiah Thomas coaching the New York Knicks
|Born||April 30, 1961|
|Listed height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Listed weight||180 lb (82 kg)|
|High school||St. Joseph (Westchester, Illinois)|
|NBA draft||1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall|
|Selected by the Detroit Pistons|
|2006–2008||New York Knicks|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||18,822 (19.2 ppg)|
|Assists||9,061 (9.3 apg)|
|Steals||1,861 (1.9 spg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2006
The youngest of nine children, Thomas was born on April 30, 1961 in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in the city's West Side. He attended the private St. Joseph High School in Westchester, which was a 90-minute commute from his home. Playing under coach Gene Pingatore, he led St. Joseph to the state finals in his junior year, and was considered one of the top college prospects in the country.
Thomas was recruited to play college basketball for Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers. Although he received mail saying Knight tied up his players and beat them, he did not believe the rumors. When Knight visited the Thomas home, one of Isiah's brothers, who wanted him to attend DePaul, embarrassed him by insulting the Indiana coach and engaging him in a shouting match. Nevertheless, Thomas chose Knight and Indiana because he felt that getting away to Bloomington would be good for him, as would Knight's discipline.
Thomas quickly had to adjust to Knight's disciplinarian style. At the 1979 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico, Knight got so mad at Thomas he threatened to put him on a plane home. Knight recalled yelling at the freshman-to-be, "You ought to go to DePaul, Isiah, because you sure as hell aren't going to be an Indiana player playing like that." Prior to the start of his freshman year, the 1979–80 season, Knight became so upset with Thomas that he kicked him out of a practice. According to Thomas, Knight was making a point that no player, no "matter how talented, is bigger than Knight's philosophy."
Thomas quickly proved his skills as a player and became a favorite with both Knight and Indiana fans. His superior abilities eventually caused Knight to adjust his coaching style. Fans displayed bedsheets with quotations from the Book of Isaiah ("And a little child shall lead them") and nicknamed him "Mr. Wonderful." Because of Thomas's relatively short stature at 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), coach Knight would call him "Pee Wee". Thomas and Mike Woodson led the Hoosiers to the Big Ten championship and advanced to the 1980 Sweet Sixteen.
The next year, the 1980–81 season, Knight made Thomas captain and told him to run the show on the floor. Thomas responded so well that, as the season unfolded, Knight and Thomas grew as friends. When a Purdue player took a cheap shot at Thomas during a game at Bloomington, Knight called a press conference to defend his star. And 19 days later, when Thomas hit an Iowa player and was ejected from a game, Knight refused to criticize him.
That year, Thomas and the Hoosiers once again won a conference title and won the 1981 NCAA tournament, the school's fourth national title. The sophomore earned the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award, and made himself eligible for the upcoming NBA draft.
In the 1981 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons chose Thomas with the No. 2 pick and signed him to a four-year $1.6 million contract. Thomas made the All-Rookie team and started for the Eastern Conference in the 1982 NBA All-Star Game.
In the opening round of the 1984 NBA Playoffs, Thomas and the Pistons faced off against Bernard King and the New York Knicks. In the pivotal fifth game, Thomas was having a subpar performance, while King was having an excellent game. Thomas scored 16 points in the last 94 seconds to force the game into overtime, but then fouled out, and the Knicks held on to win.
In the 1985 NBA Playoffs, Thomas and his team went to the conference semifinals against the 15-time NBA champion Boston Celtics led by future basketball Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson. Detroit couldn't shake the Celtics in their six-game series, eventually losing.
In the 1987 NBA Playoffs, Thomas and the Pistons went to the Eastern Conference Finals and faced the Celtics again. It was the furthest the team had advanced since moving from Fort Wayne. Detroit was able to tie the Celtics at two games apiece, but its hope of winning Game 5 at Boston Garden was dashed by Larry Bird with just seconds remaining: Thomas attempted to quickly inbound the ball, Bird stole the pass and hit Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup.
In 1988, the Pistons' first trip to the Finals saw them face the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Before the series, Thomas and Johnson exchanged a courtside kiss on the cheek prior to tip-off as a sign of their deep friendship. After taking a 3–2 series lead back to Los Angeles, Detroit appeared poised to win their first NBA title in Game 6.
One of Thomas's most inspiring and self-defining moments came in Game 6. Although he had severely sprained his ankle late in the game, Thomas continued to play. While hobbling and in obvious pain, Thomas scored 25 points in a single quarter, an NBA Finals record. But the Lakers won the game 103–102 on a pair of last-minute free throws by Abdul-Jabbar, following a controversial foul called on Bill Laimbeer. With Thomas unable to compete at full strength the Lakers were able to take advantage and clinched their second consecutive title in Game 7, 108–105.
In the 1988–89 season, Thomas, along with teammates Joe Dumars, Rick Mahorn, Vinnie Johnson, Dennis Rodman, James Edwards, John Salley, Bill Laimbeer, and Mark Aguirre, guided his team to a 63–19 record. Detroit played a brash and dominating brand of basketball through the playoffs that led to their nickname "Bad Boys". First they defeated Boston, which had been suffering persistent injuries. Michael Jordan and the up-and-coming Chicago Bulls fell next in the Conference Finals, setting up an NBA Finals rematch with the Lakers. This time the Pistons dominated, sweeping the Lakers in 4 games to win their first of back-to-back championships. The following year, Thomas was voted NBA Finals Most Valuable Player of the 1990 NBA Finals after averaging 27.6 points per game, 7.0 assists per game, and 5.2 rebounds per game in Detroit's victory over Clyde Drexler's Portland Trail Blazers. The Pistons continued to play well between 1991 and 1993 but found their road back to the NBA Finals blocked by the emerging Chicago Bulls dynasty. An aging and ailing Thomas decided to end his career following the 1994 season, but a torn Achilles' tendon in April forced him off the court for good a month early.
As a point guard, Thomas was a dangerous scorer and effective leader. He was known for his dribbling ability, prowess driving to the basket, and often spectacular passing. Thomas was named to the All-NBA First team three times and is the Pistons' all-time leader in points, steals, games played and assists. He ranks eighth in NBA history in assists (9,061, 9.3 apg) and 15th in steals (1,861). His No. 11 was retired by the Pistons.
Thomas was selected to the 1980 Olympic team, but like all American athletes he was not able to play in Moscow due to the Olympics boycott. The boycotting countries instead participated in the "Gold Medal Series", a series of games against NBA teams, a French team and the 1976 Olympic gold medal team in various U.S. cities, recording a 5–1 record (losing only to the Seattle SuperSonics). Thomas shot 22–55 from the field and 14–17 from the line. He led the U.S. in assists with 37 (the next highest total on the team was 17) and averaged 9.7 points per game. In 2007 Thomas received one of 461 Congressional Gold Medals created especially for the spurned athletes.
Despite his talent, Thomas was left off the original Olympic Dream Team, possibly as a result of an alleged feud with Michael Jordan. In the book When the Game Was Ours, Magic Johnson relates that he, Jordan and other players conspired to keep Thomas off the Dream Team.
After Tim Hardaway left the team due to injury, Thomas was named to Dream Team II for the 1994 World Championship of Basketball, but did not play due to his Achilles tendon injury that eventually led to his retirement. He was replaced by Kevin Johnson.
Isiah Thomas is the founding Chairman and CEO of Isiah International LLC, a holding company with a diverse portfolio of business ventures and investments. Gre3n Waste Removal, Re3 Recycling, and Eleven Capital Group are three of the primary businesses in the Isiah International family of companies. The mission of Isiah International is to become a business incubator for the minority community.
In addition to these business ventures, Thomas is involved in real estate projects in Chicago and the surrounding region as the owner of Isiah Real Estate. Thomas said he is putting money in distressed areas and reinvesting: "I'm hoping I can be a catalyst for change in those areas, to get the population back into those communities and be a catalyst to make a difference." Thomas is also involved in a $300 million development deal for a mixed-use complex at the Illinois Medical District Commission. Isiah Real Estate partnered with Higgins Development Partners, Thomas Samuels Enterprises, and East Lake Management & Development to develop 9.5 acres of land that would include retail space, a hotel, apartments and parking areas.
Thomas's business career began during his career with the Pistons. Planning for life after the NBA, Thomas invested in a host of ventures through his private investment company out of Michigan, Isiah Investments, LLC. His primary investment was a large chain of printing franchises, American Speedy Printing Centers Inc. Thomas took a very hands-on approach at American Speedy, helping lead the company out of bankruptcy to become profitable and one of the largest printing franchises in the world.
He was also one of the founding members of the advisory board for Marquis Jet Partners and a partner of Dale and Thomas Popcorn.
After retiring, Thomas became part owner and Executive Vice President for the expansion Toronto Raptors in 1994. In 1998, he left the organization after a dispute with new management over the franchise's direction and his future responsibilities. During his four-year tenure with the team, the Raptors drafted Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, and high schooler Tracy McGrady.
After leaving the Raptors, Thomas became a television commentator (first as the lead game analyst with play-by-play man Bob Costas and then as part of the studio team) for the NBA on NBC. He also worked a three-man booth with Costas and Doug Collins.
Thomas became the owner of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) from 1998 to 2000. He founded Enlighten Sports Inc, a full-service web development group specializing in sports marketing, in 1999.
When at the Continental Basketball Association, Thomas launched partnerships with Enlighten Sports and the University of Colorado and the CBA. The new websites allowed fans to watch live game webcasts, use live shot charts, chat with players and more. Thomas said the internet was "and integral part of [the CBA's] strategy to provide engaging and entertaining content for fans."  Thomas also launched a partnership between the CBA and SEASONTICKET.com to bring personalized video highlights and scores to fans across the country as well as be a portal for All-Star League voting. Thomas foresaw that streaming video would be the future of news and entertainment.
In 1998, Thomas founded Isiah.com, a company serving consumers, retailers, and corporations with online gift certificates and other i-commerce products. Isiah.com's first venture was i-gift, a one-stop, online shopping service center for gift certificates. i-gift was praised as unique because it could drive e-commerce while supporting and expanding brick-and-mortar merchants. He brought the next generation of gift certificates to The Somerset Collection in Michigan, which houses exclusive department stores and retailers. Isiah.com's mission was to "harness internet technologies and leverage business transformation processes to create new business ventures that both produce profits and benefit under-served sectors of the community." Isiah.com also had a partnership with the NBA store.
Thomas purchased the CBA for $10 million, and in 2001 the league was forced into bankruptcy and folded, shortly after NBA Commissioner David Stern decided to create his own development league, the NBDL, to replace the CBA.
From 2000 to 2003, Thomas coached the Indiana Pacers, succeeding Larry Bird, who previously coached the Pacers to the Eastern Conference title. Thomas attempted to bring up young talents such as Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, Al Harrington, and Jeff Foster. But under Thomas the Pacers were not able to stay at the elite level as they went through the transition from a veteran-dominated, playoff-experienced team to a younger, less experienced team. In Thomas's first two seasons with the Pacers, the team was eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets, both of whom eventually made the NBA Finals.
In his last year with the Pacers, Thomas guided them to a 48–34 record in the regular season and coached the Eastern Conference team at the 2003 NBA All-Star Game. As the third seed, the Pacers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the sixth-seeded Boston Celtics. With blossoming talents such as Jermaine O'Neal, Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Al Harrington and Jamaal Tinsley, along with the veteran leadership of Reggie Miller, some perceived Thomas's lack of coaching experience as the Pacers' stumbling block. In the off-season, Bird returned to the Pacers as President of Basketball Operations, and his first act was to replace Thomas with Rick Carlisle.
On December 22, 2003, the New York Knicks hired Thomas as President of Basketball Operations. Thomas was ultimately unsuccessful with the Knicks roster and fanbase. At the end of the 2005–06 season, the Knicks had the highest payroll in the league and the second-worst record. He traded away several future draft picks to Chicago in a deal for Eddy Curry including what turned out to be two lottery picks in talent-rich drafts, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Joakim Noah.
During the following season the Knicks became embroiled in a brawl with the Denver Nuggets that Thomas allegedly instigated by ordering his players to commit a hard foul in the paint. He was not fined or suspended; NBA Commissioner David Stern said that he relied only on "definitive information" when handing out punishments. Later in the season, nine months after Dolan had demanded "evident progress", the Knicks re-signed Thomas to an undisclosed "multi-year" contract. After Thomas was granted the extension, the Knicks abruptly fell from playoff contention with a dismal finish to the season.
Thomas also compounded the Knicks' salary-cap problems by signing fringe players such as Jerome James and Jared Jeffries to full mid-level exception contracts. Neither player saw any significant playing time and both were often injured and highly ineffective when able to play.
Despite the constant criticism he received from Knicks fans, Thomas maintained that he had no intention of leaving until he turned the team around, and predicted he would lead the Knicks to a championship, stating that his goal was to leave behind a "championship legacy" with the Knicks, just as he had done for the Detroit Pistons. This prediction was met with widespread skepticism.
On April 2, 2008, Donnie Walsh was introduced to replace Thomas as President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks. Walsh did not comment definitively on whether Thomas would be retained in any capacity.
One night after the Knicks tied a franchise record of 59 losses and ended their season, news broke that in talks with Walsh the week before, Thomas had been told he would not return as Knicks head coach the following season. He was officially "reassigned" on April 18 "after a season of listless and dreadful basketball, a tawdry lawsuit and unending chants from fans demanding his dismissal." Thomas posted an overall winning percentage of .341 as head coach of the Knicks, fifth lowest in team history. As part of the reassignment agreement, Thomas was to serve as a consultant to the team, reporting directly to Walsh and banned from having contact with Knicks players on the rationale that he could undermine the new head coach.
On April 14, 2009, Thomas accepted an offer to become the head basketball coach of FIU, replacing Sergio Rouco after five losing seasons. Thomas announced that he would donate his first year's salary back to the school, saying, "I did not come here for the money."
After posting a 7–25 record in his first season at FIU, on August 6, 2010, Thomas announced that he was taking a job as consultant to the New York Knicks, while keeping his position as head coach at FIU. According to the New York Daily News, "nearly every major media outlet panned the announcement of Thomas' hire", and it led to a "public outcry" among fans. In a reversal on August 11, Thomas announced that he would not be working with the Knicks because holding both jobs violated NBA bylaws.
Thomas finished his second season at FIU with an 11–19 record (5–11 in conference games). On April 6, 2012, FIU fired Thomas after he went 26–65 in three seasons. Under Thomas, FIU never won more than 11 games in a season.
On December 19, 2012, NBA TV announced that Thomas would begin work on December 21, 2012, as a member of the studio analyst panel. It was also announced that Thomas would become a regular contributor for NBA.com.
On June 22, 2015, the Liberty and the WNBA agreed to suspend consideration of Thomas's ownership application. He remains president of the team.
On August 2, 2015, during halftime at the game against the Seattle Storm, the New York Liberty inducted WNBA legend Becky Hammon into the Liberty's Ring of Honor. Thomas presented Hammon with her ring during the induction ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Hammon, a former New York Liberty point guard, is an NBA assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
In 2016, Thomas announced that he was the exclusive United States importer of the Cheurlin Champagne brand through ISIAH Imports, a subsidiary of ISIAH International, LLC. Cheurlin Champagne made its debut in the United States at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Other activations have included a private luncheon honoring former President Bill Clinton. Cheurlin recently debuted at The Palace of Auburn Hills for the final season of the Detroit Pistons at the historic arena. Cheurlin produces two champagne categories: Cheurlin's Brut Speciale and Rose de Saignee and Cheurlin Thomas' "Celebrite" Blanc de Blanc and "Le Champion" Blanc de Noir. In August 2017, Thomas brought his Cheurlin Flagship Collection portfolio of Champagnes to the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Since 2017 Thomas has been a regular panelist during NBA on TNT's Monday coverage Players Only, which features only former NBA players as studio analysts, play by play announcers, and color analysts for games.
Thomas finished his college degree at Indiana University during the Pistons' off-seasons and received his Master's in Education from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education in 2013. At UC Berkeley, Thomas studied the connection between education and sports, specifically how American society makes education accessible (or inaccessible) to black male college athletes.
During his playing career, Thomas paid college tuition for more than 75 youngsters. When he was a Piston, in 1987 Thomas organized the "No Crime Day" in Detroit. He even had the help of Detroit Mayor Coleman Young to call for a moratorium on crime in the summer of 1986.
Also in 1987 Thomas posed for a poster sponsored by the American Library Association with the caption "READ: Isiah Thomas for America's Libraries". Thomas is shown dressed in a Sam Spade type outfit while reading a detective novel.
Thomas founded Mary's Court, a foundation that supports economically disadvantaged parents and children in the communities of Garfield Park and Lawndale on the West Side of Chicago. The charity is named for Thomas's mother, who he credits with instilling in him the importance of hard work and giving back to the community. Mary's Court has teamed up with another Chicago-based charity, Kids off the Block, to serve meals to Chicago children and families during Thanksgiving.
While at FIU, Thomas and Mary's Court donated $50,000 to FIU's First Generation Scholarship and organized a sell-out charity game during the NBA lockout featuring NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, with proceeds benefiting Mary's Court. A street on Chicago's West Side was named in honor of his mother.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys & Girls Club of Chicago recognized Thomas's philanthropic work in March 2012 and honored him with the organization's King Legacy Award at their 24th Annual King Legacy Awards Gala. The award is given annually to individuals who have fostered the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their community contributions.
In July 2012, Thomas joined The Black Men's Roundtable in Florida along with other national and local black leaders to discuss issues that directly affect black males.
The Peace League is an annual community basketball league that brings together young men and women from surrounding communities within the Chicago area and provides a safe haven growth and development; it was established by Thomas and Father Pfleger in 2011. In September 2012, Thomas co-hosted the Ballin' for Peace Tournament at St. Sabina Church in Chicago. He joined with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Quentin Richardson, Zach Randolph, the Chicago Bears' J'Marcus Webb, pastor Father Michael Pfleger, and others to produce this event, in order to reduce gang violence through communication and basketball. Thomas also stressed the value of education for those in poverty.
The Peace League initiative has expanded into a program which now offers GED classes, employment training, and internship opportunities. The surrounding Auburn-Gresham neighborhood has seen a drastic drop in violence since the league began.
Most recently, the Peace League Tournament was expanded to New York City during the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend. The New York City Peace Game featured over 50 players from across all five Boroughs that competed in a tournament as well as a brief speaking program with some special guests, supporters and participating organizations at the Harlem PAL that included Harry Belafonte of Sankofa.org, Help USA, Cure Violence, and Connor Sports.
In March 2013, Children Uniting Nations, an organization that focuses on advocacy/awareness and provides academic and community-based programs for at-risk and foster youth, presented Thomas and Mary's Court with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his passion and commitment to improving the lives of children.
In partnership with the Marillac Social Center, Thomas and Mary's Court hosted its Third Annual Holiday Toy Giveaway. Each year Mary's Court provides gifts, clothing and educational items to hundreds of children in Chicago at this signature event.
On February 13, 2017, Thomas was presented the AT&T Humanity of Connection Award during its annual Black History Month celebration in honor of Lewis H. Latimer at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. He was honored for his historic achievements in sports and his countless contributions to the African American community as a leader in the sports, business and philanthropic industries.
Isiah Lord Thomas III was the son of Isiah II and Mary Thomas, the youngest of seven boys and two girls. Isiah's father was an army veteran wounded in the Battle of Saipan. He later attended trade school, eventually becoming the first black supervisor at International Harvester in Chicago. When the plant closed, the only work he could find was as a janitor and the family fell into hardship and Isiah II left when Isiah was a young child. Thomas grew up in the heart of Chicago's West Side ghetto. After his parents' separation, he lived with his mother. Born a Baptist, Mary turned the family toward Catholicism.
Thomas was a basketball prodigy from age three and was tutored by his older brothers, some of whom were good players in their own right. Although most coaches in the Chicago area considered him too small to have any significant impact on a basketball program, Thomas's brothers persuaded coach Gene Pingatore of St. Joseph High School to arrange a sports scholarship for Isiah.
Thomas met his future wife, Lynn Kendall, the daughter of a Secret Service agent and a nurse, in the early 1980s while they were both attending Indiana University. The couple married in 1985.
Thomas graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in 1987. Isiah Thomas and Lynn Kendall had a son, Joshua, in 1988, and a daughter, Lauren, in 1991. Thomas has a third son from an earlier liaison, Marc Dones, born in 1986.
Thomas founded Isiah International LLC, an investment holdings company with Thomas as Chairman and CEO. It runs five companies: Isiah Real Estate, a development firm specializing in commercial properties; TAND Properties, a property management firm, private equity and asset management firm; Isiah Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations; and GRE3N Waste Removal. Thomas also co-owns the waste removal's sister company, RE3 Recycling, with his daughter, Lauren Thomas.
Isiah Thomas was involved in allegations about gambling, an accusation outlined in the 1997 book Money Players.
Two months before Thomas's marriage to Lynn Kendall in 1985, Jenni Dones, a woman from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, filed a paternity lawsuit against Thomas claiming that she was pregnant after having had a three- or four-month "intimate, exclusive, ongoing relationship" with him. Her child, Marc E. T. Dones, was born in 1986. After a long-running legal dispute, Thomas agreed to pay a settlement of about $52,000 and provide a monthly payment of $2,765 until Marc Dones reached 18, with Marc getting a final lump-sum amount of $100,000 at 18. In a case Dones filed in 1995, she was able to get additional financial support for her son and his college education. Marc Dones is an aspiring writer and poet who has been described by the literary site thedetroiter.com as "a talented writer and poet".
In January 2006, Anucha Browne Sanders, a former female executive with the New York Knicks, filed an employment and harassment lawsuit against The Madison Square Garden Company, alleging in part that Thomas had sexually harassed her in the workplace and that she had been fired in retaliation for complaining about the harassment. The case was then settled for $11.5 million.
On October 24, 2008, Thomas was taken to White Plains Hospital Center near his New York City area home after accidentally taking an overdose of Lunesta, a form of sleep medication. He was released from the hospital later that day.
In an interview with ESPN, Thomas explained that he was so quiet about his hospitalization because he was focused on his family at the time.
In the 1985 NBA All-Star Game, Thomas was joined on the Eastern Conference squad by star rookie Michael Jordan. Jordan wound up attempting nine shots, relatively few for a starting player. Afterward, Thomas and his fellow veteran East players were accused of having planned to "freeze out" Jordan from their offense by not passing him the ball, supposedly out of spite over the attention Jordan was receiving. No player involved has ever confirmed that the freeze-out occurred, but the story has long been reported and has never been refuted by Jordan. Thomas has ridiculed the idea that he masterminded the supposed freeze-out as "ludicrous", pointing out that he was a relatively young player on a team that included Larry Bird, Julius Erving and Moses Malone. During Jordan's Hall of Fame induction, in which Thomas introduced John Stockton, who was also being inducted, Jordan dismissed the claims about a freeze-out having taken place, saying "I was just happy to be there, being the young guy surrounded by all these greats, I just wanted to prove myself and I hope that I did prove myself to you guys."
In 1987, Thomas was asked if he agreed with Dennis Rodman's comments on Larry Bird, and reinforced that if Bird were black he "would be just another good guy" instead of being portrayed as the league's best player. Thomas later said he was joking and just supporting his teammate.
In the Eastern Conference Finals of the 1991 NBA Playoffs, the two-time defending champion Detroit Pistons faced the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. The Pistons had defeated the Bulls in each of the first three meetings, but this time they suffered a four-game sweep at the hands of the Bulls (who would win the first of three consecutive, and six overall, NBA championships between 1991 and 1998). The series was marked by a number of verbal, physical, and match-up problems. With 7.9 seconds remaining in the fourth game, Laimbeer organized a walk-out and Thomas and all of his teammates—except Joe Dumars and John Salley—walked off the court, refusing to shake hands with the Bulls. In 1992, Thomas was passed over for the Dream Team apparently because of his strained relationship with Jordan.
In September 2009, during Jordan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Jordan thanked Thomas and others for giving him the motivation he needed to compete in the NBA.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Denotes seasons in which Thomas won an NBA championship|
|*||Led the league|
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win–loss %|
|Playoffs||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win–loss %|
|FIU Golden Panthers / Panthers (Sun Belt Conference) (2009–2012)|
The 1981 NBA draft was the 35th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on June 9, 1981, before the 1981–82 season. The draft was broadcast in the United States on the USA Network. In this draft, 23 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players and other eligible players, including international players. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each conference, with the order determined by a coin flip. The Dallas Mavericks won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Detroit Pistons were awarded the second pick. The remaining first-round picks and the subsequent rounds were assigned to teams in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was automatically eligible for selection. Before the draft, five college underclassmen announced that they would leave college early and would be eligible for selection. The draft consisted of 10 rounds comprising the selection of 223 players.
The Dallas Mavericks used their first pick to draft 1980 Naismith College Player of the Year Mark Aguirre from DePaul University. Aguirre, who had just finished his junior season in college, became the second underclassman to be drafted first overall, after Magic Johnson in 1979. The Detroit Pistons used the second overall pick to draft Isiah Thomas, a sophomore guard from Indiana University. Thomas had just won the 1981 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship with Indiana and was named as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. The New Jersey Nets used the third pick to draft another underclassman, Buck Williams, from the University of Maryland. Williams went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award and was also selected to the All-Star Game in his rookie season. This draft marked the first time that the first three selections were college underclassmen. Danny Ainge, the 1981 Wooden College Player of the Year, was selected in the second round with the 31st pick by the Boston Celtics. Ainge had been playing professional baseball since 1979 with the Toronto Blue Jays in the Major League Baseball (MLB) while also playing college basketball at Brigham Young University. He reportedly preferred to continue his baseball career, but the Celtics successfully persuaded him to play basketball instead. He is one of only twelve athletes who have played in both the NBA and MLB.1981 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans
The Consensus 1981 NCAA Men's Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of four major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Associated Press, the USBWA, The United Press International and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.1987 NBA All-Star Game
The 37th National Basketball Association All-Star Game was played on February 8, 1987, at Seattle's Kingdome. Seattle SuperSonics power forward Tom Chambers was the game's MVP.
The Eastern Conference team consisted of the Washington Bullets' Moses Malone and Jeff Malone, the Philadelphia 76ers' Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks and Charles Barkley, the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, the Detroit Pistons' Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer, the Atlanta Hawks' Dominique Wilkins and the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan.
In addition to game MVP Tom Chambers, the Western Conference team featured the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Golden State Warriors' Sleepy Floyd and Joe Barry Carroll, the Dallas Mavericks' Rolando Blackman and Mark Aguirre, the San Antonio Spurs' Alvin Robertson, the Phoenix Suns' Walter Davis, the Denver Nuggets' Alex English and the Houston Rockets' Akeem Olajuwon. Houston's Ralph Sampson was selected but unable to play due to injury.
The coach of the Eastern team was Boston's K.C. Jones. The coach of the Western team was the Lakers' Pat Riley.1988 NBA Finals
The 1988 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1987–88 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. The Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons 4 games to 3.
One of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Pat Riley's most famous moments came when he promised the crowd a repeat championship during the Lakers' 1986-87 championship parade in downtown Los Angeles. With every team in the league now gunning for them, the Los Angeles Lakers still found a way to win, taking their seventh consecutive Pacific Division title. While the 1988 Lakers did not produce as many wins in the regular season as the 1987 Lakers, they were just as successful in the playoffs, becoming the first team in 19 years to repeat as champions. The Lakers met the physical Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals.
One of Pistons guard Isiah Thomas's career-defining performances came in Game 6. Despite badly twisting his ankle midway through the period, Thomas scored an NBA Finals record 25 third-quarter points, as Detroit fell valiantly, 103-102, to the Lakers at the Forum.
Thomas still managed to score 10 first-half points in Game 7, as Detroit built a 5-point lead. In the 3rd quarter, the Lakers, inspired by Finals MVP James Worthy and Byron Scott (14 3rd-quarter points), exploded as they built a 10-point lead entering the final period. The lead swelled to 15 before Detroit mounted a furious 4th-quarter rally, trimming the lead to two points on several occasions. Still, several Detroit miscues enabled the Lakers to win, 108-105.1989 NBA All-Star Game
The 39th National Basketball Association All-Star Game was held at Houston, Texas on February 12, 1989. The game's most valuable player was Karl Malone.
The east was composed of Mark Jackson, Kevin McHale, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Mark Price, Terry Cummings, Larry Nance and Brad Daugherty.
The west was led by the Utah Jazz trio of Karl Malone, John Stockton and Mark Eaton; the Lakers' James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Clyde Drexler, Alex English, Chris Mullin, Akeem Olajuwon, Tom Chambers, Dale Ellis and Kevin Duckworth.The game set a new NBA All-Star attendance record. Neither Magic Johnson nor Larry Bird played, though both were still active in the NBA. Johnson was selected, but sat out due to injuries and was replaced by Abdul-Jabbar. Though he only scored 4 points, the game ended with Abdul-Jabbar hitting the final shot of the game, a sky hook.
The game featured a rap by rap group Ultramagnetic MCs that named each all-star and each coach. The rap was broadcast immediately before the start of the game.
The coaches were Lenny Wilkens for the East and Pat Riley for the West.1989 NBA Finals
The 1989 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1988–89 NBA season. The series was a rematch of the previous year's championship round between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers.
During the season, the Lakers had won their division, with Magic Johnson collecting his second MVP award. The team swept the first three playoff series (Pacific Division foes: Portland, Seattle, and Phoenix), resulting in a rematch with the Detroit Pistons in the Finals. However, starting off guard Byron Scott suffered a hamstring injury in practice before Game 1 and was ruled out of the series. Then with the Lakers leading early in game 2, Magic Johnson pulled his hamstring and would also be out of the series. The Lakers had won two straight NBA championships in 1987 and 1988 but without their starting backcourt, their chances were doomed for a "3-peat."
The Pistons had dominated the Eastern Conference, winning 63 games during the regular season. After sweeping the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, the Pistons beat the Chicago Bulls in six games, earning a second straight trip to the NBA Finals. In the season before, the Lakers had beaten them in a tough, seven-game series.
The Pistons won the series in a four-game sweep, marking the first time a team (Lakers) had swept the first three rounds of the playoffs, only to be swept in the finals. As of today, the Pistons are the most recent Eastern Conference team to sweep an NBA finals. Prior to 2016, the Pistons were the only team to clinch all four series on the road.
For their rough physical play, and sometimes arrogant demeanor, Pistons' center Bill Laimbeer nicknamed the team 'The Bad Boys'. The name became an unofficial 'slogan' for the Pistons throughout the next season as well.
Following the series, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar announced his retirement at 42, after 20 years with the NBA.
Pistons' guard Joe Dumars was named MVP for the series.
Prior to the 2016 NBA Finals, when the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame the Golden State Warriors, and the 2014 NBA Finals when the San Antonio Spurs bested the Miami Heat, the Pistons were the last Finals champion to have been runner-up to the same opponent the previous season as they did in the 1988 Finals.1990 NBA All-Star Game
The 40th National Basketball Association All-Star Game was played on February 11, 1990 at Miami Arena in Miami, Florida. Magic Johnson was named the game's MVP.
The East was led by the trio of Celtics' big men Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and the Bulls' dynamic duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The trio of Piston players Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman, plus Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins and center Patrick Ewing completed the team.
The West was led by the Lakers' trio of Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and A.C. Green. Clyde Drexler, Akeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, David Robinson, Rolando Blackman, Lafayette Lever and Tom Chambers completed the team.Coaches: East: Chuck Daly, West: Pat Riley. This was the first of four consecutive All-Star Games in which the coaches of the previous year's NBA Finals were the head coaches of the All-Star Game.
This was the last NBA All-Star Game broadcast by CBS before moving to NBC in the following year.1990 NBA Finals
The 1990 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1989–90 NBA season. The series pitted the Detroit Pistons (the previous year's champions) against the Portland Trail Blazers. This was the first NBA Finals since 1979 not to involve either the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, or Boston Celtics.
The Pistons became just the third franchise in NBA history to win back-to-back championships, joining the Lakers and Celtics.1992 NBA All-Star Game
The 1992 NBA All-Star Game was the 42nd edition of the All-Star Game. The event took place at the Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida. The West defeated the East, 153–113. The game is most remembered for the return of Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who retired before the 1991–92 NBA season after contracting HIV. Johnson won the MVP award after winning memorable one-on-one showdowns with Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan and then sinking a long three pointer to close the game, as the final 14½ seconds that remained on the clock were not played.
The 1992 NBA All-Star Game was broadcast by NBC for the second consecutive year.1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team
The 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the "Dream Team", was the first American Olympic team to feature active professional players from the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team has been described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame called the team "the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet". At the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona, the team defeated its opponents by an average of 44 points en route to the gold medal against Croatia. Chuck Daly served as coach, assisted by Lenny Wilkens, P. J. Carlesimo, and Mike Krzyzewski.Bill Laimbeer
William Laimbeer Jr. (born May 19, 1957) is an American former National Basketball Association (NBA) player who spent most of his career with the Detroit Pistons. Teaming with Hall of Fame backcourt guards Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and small forward Dennis Rodman, Laimbeer won back to back NBA Championships in both 1989 and 1990. He is the current head coach of the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces. Playing at center, Laimbeer was a four-time NBA All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships. Initially raised in the Chicago, Illinois suburb of Clarendon Hills, Laimbeer attended Palos Verdes High School in Southern California and then the University of Notre Dame.
After his playing career, Laimbeer served as the head coach and general manager of the Detroit Shock in the WNBA from 2002 to 2009, coaching the team to three league championships, and New York Liberty from 2013 to 2017. Laimbeer is currently the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces.Celtics–Pistons rivalry
The Celtics–Pistons rivalry is a National Basketball Association (NBA) rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons. The two teams played each other in the NBA playoffs five times from 1985–1991, with Boston winning in 1985 and 1987, and Detroit winning en route to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1988 and 1989, and 1991. The rivalry peaked in the late 1980s, featuring players such as Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Rodman, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Bill Laimbeer.Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are an American professional basketball team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Pistons compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division and plays its home games at Little Caesars Arena. The team was founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne (Zollner) Pistons in 1941, a member of the National Basketball League (NBL) where it won two NBL championships: in 1944 and 1945. The Pistons later joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1948. The NBL and BAA merged to become the NBA in 1949, and the Pistons became part of the merged league. Since moving to Detroit in 1957, the Pistons have won three NBA championships: in 1989, 1990 and 2004.Isiah Thomas (boxer)
Isiah Thomas (born January 30, 1989) is an American boxer best known for winning the first ever Junior World Boxing Championship for the United States at the 2005 Cadet World Championships on October 18 in Liverpool, England.Isiah Thomas (disambiguation)
Isiah Thomas (born 1961) is an American retired Hall of Fame basketball player who played for the Detroit Pistons.
Isiah or Isaiah Thomas may also refer to:
Isaiah Thomas (publisher) (1749–1831), American revolutionary-era publisher and author
Isaiah Thomas (basketball) (born 1989), American basketball player who is active
Isiah Thomas (boxer) (born 1989), American boxerJordan Rules
The Jordan Rules were a defensive basketball strategy employed by the Detroit Pistons against Michael Jordan in order to limit his effectiveness on offense. Devised by Isiah Thomas in 1988, the Pistons' strategy was "to play him tough, to physically challenge him and to vary its defenses so as to try to throw him off balance." Sometimes the Pistons would overplay Jordan to keep the ball from him. Sometimes they would play him straight up, more often they would run a double-team at him as soon as he touched the ball to try to force him to give it up. And whenever he went to the basket, they made sure his path was contested. This strategy has also sometimes been employed against other prolific scoring guards. The Jordan Rules were an instrumental aspect of the rivalry between the "Bad Boys" Pistons and Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This style of defense limited players including Jordan from entering the paint and was carried out by Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer.
The Jordan Rules were most effective for the Pistons during their first three playoff meetings with the Bulls. Detroit beat Chicago four games to one in the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Pistons and Bulls met each other in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the next 3 seasons. Detroit's defense defeated the Bulls in 6 games in 1989 and in 7 games in 1990. The Pistons won back-to-back championships after eliminating the Bulls. Finally, in 1991, the Bulls defeated the Pistons in the playoffs, neutralizing the Jordan Rules with their triangle offense, orchestrated by coach Phil Jackson and assistant Tex Winter. They swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Soon after, the Bulls captured their 1st-ever NBA title, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals 4 games to 1. The Pistons qualified for the playoffs again in 1992, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000, not advancing to the second round until 2002.
This strategy was later used by the New York Knicks from 1992 to 1998. However, the Knicks were not as successful as Detroit in containing Jordan and the Bulls. Jordan faced New York in the NBA Playoffs in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996. The Bulls eliminated the Knicks and captured NBA titles in all four of those seasons.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, then Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly described the Jordan Rules as:
When doing an ESPN 30 for 30, Joe Dumars said that,List of Detroit Pistons seasons
This is a list of seasons completed by the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association. The franchise was founded in 1941 as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons in the National Basketball League and as the Fort Wayne Pistons joined the Basketball Association of America, which was the precursor to the NBA. However, the games won and lost in the NBL are not included in the franchise total.
The Pistons have had three main periods of success. In the early years of the NBA the team reached the NBA Finals twice in consecutive years before falling to the Lakers and then to the St. Louis Hawks. Following an extended era of mediocrity the Pistons, led by the Hall of Fame backcourt of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars and nicknamed the "Bad Boys" for their intimidating defence, posted winning records every seasons from 1983–84 to 1991–92, and after narrowly losing in 1988, ended the Lakers dynasty of the 1980s the following season and repeated the following year. The Pistons’ third period of success, with former on-court star Dumars serving as general manager and building a top team from other franchises’ discards, occurred between 2001–02 and 2007–08 when the team won fifty games or more during every season, including a third NBA title in 2003–04 and a franchise record total of wins two seasons later.
The Pistons have experienced two major periods of failure. Between 1956–57 and 1982–83, the Pistons had just three winning seasons and overall had a winning percentage of .417, culminating in a combined record of 37–127 (win percent .226) in the 1979–80 and 1980–81 seasons, after which the drafting of Isiah Thomas completely revitalized the franchise. Since 2009–10, the Pistons have only once finished out of the bottom two in their division or had a winning record. In the six seasons starting in 2009–10 the franchise had an overall record of 172 wins from 476 games or a winning percentage of .361.NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award
The National Basketball Association All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (MVP) is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given to the player(s) voted best of the annual All-Star Game. The award was established in 1953 when NBA officials decided to designate an MVP for each year's game. The league also re-honored players from the previous two All-Star Games. Ed Macauley and Paul Arizin were selected as the 1951 and 1952 MVP winners respectively. The voting is conducted by a panel of media members, who cast their vote after the conclusion of the game. The player(s) with the most votes or ties for the most votes wins the award. No All-Star Game MVP was named in 1999 since the game was canceled due to the league's lockout. As of 2019, the most recent recipient is Golden State Warrior forward Kevin Durant.
Bob Pettit and Kobe Bryant are the only two players to win the All-Star Game MVP four times. Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and LeBron James have each won the award three times, while Bob Cousy, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant have all won the award twice. James' first All-Star MVP in 2006 made him the youngest to have ever won the award at the age of 21 years, 1 month. Kyrie Irving, winner of the 2014 All-Star Game MVP, is the second-youngest at 21 years, 10 months. They are notable as being the two youngest to win the award, both as Cleveland Cavaliers. Four of the games had joint winners—Elgin Baylor and Pettit in 1959, John Stockton and Malone in 1993, O'Neal and Tim Duncan in 2000, and O'Neal and Bryant in 2009. O'Neal became the first player in All-Star history to share two MVP awards as well as the first player to win the award with multiple teams. The Los Angeles Lakers have had eleven winners while the Boston Celtics have had eight. Duncan of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Irving of Australia are the only winners not born in the United States. Both Duncan and Irving are American citizens, but are considered "international" players by the NBA because they were not born in one of the fifty states or Washington, D.C. No player trained entirely outside the U.S. has won the award; Irving lived in the U.S. since age two, and Duncan played U.S. college basketball at Wake Forest.
Bob Pettit (1958, 1959) and Russell Westbrook (2015, 2016) are the only players to win consecutive awards. Pettit (1956), Bob Cousy (1957), Wilt Chamberlain (1960), Bill Russell (1963), Oscar Robertson (1964), Willis Reed (1970), Dave Cowens (1973), Michael Jordan (1988, 1996, 1998), Magic Johnson (1990), Shaquille O'Neal (2000), and Allen Iverson (2001) all won the All-Star Game MVP and the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in the same season; Jordan is the only player to do this multiple times. 14 players have won the award playing for the team that hosted the All-Star Game: Macauley (1951), Cousy (1957), Pettit (1958, 1962), Chamberlain (1960), Adrian Smith (1966), Rick Barry (1967), Jerry West (1972), Tom Chambers (1987), Michael Jordan (1988), Karl Malone (1993), John Stockton (1993), O'Neal (2004, 2009), Bryant (2011) and Davis (2017); Pettit and O'Neal did this multiple times. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has the distinction of playing in the most All-Star Games (18) without winning the All-Star Game MVP, while Adrian Smith won the MVP in his only All-Star Game.NBA Showtime
NBA Showtime is the pregame show aired before each NBA on NBC telecast. The program, a half-hour in length, began during the 1990–91 NBA season, and was initially hosted by Bob Costas. Costas left in the mid-1990s, and became lead play-by-play voice of The NBA on NBC in 1997. Hannah Storm replaced Costas and hosted Showtime until Ahmad Rashād replaced her as host of the pregame show when Storm went on maternity leave in 2001. Storm returned in 2002 which meant that her and Rashad would alternate as hosts throughout the season. NBC kept the title of Showtime prior to the 2000–01 NBA season.
Showtime analysts included:
Quinn Buckner 1991–1993
P. J. Carlesimo 2000–2001
Pat Croce 2001–2002
Julius Erving 1993–1997
Mike Fratello 2001–2002
Kevin Johnson 2000–2001
Pat Riley 1990–1991
John Salley 1997–1998
Isiah Thomas 1998–2000
Tom Tolbert 2002
Peter Vecsey 1990–2001
Jayson Williams 2001–2002Midway Games created an NBA Showtime arcade game in 1999. The game was an update to the NBA Jam series, and used the same opening music and presentation style as the television show.
|Indiana||2000–01||82||41||41||.500||4th in Central||4||1||3||.250||Lost in First round|
|Indiana||2001–02||82||42||40||.512||4th in Central||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First round|
|Indiana||2002–03||82||48||34||.585||2nd in Central||6||2||4||.333||Lost in First round|
|New York||2006–07||82||33||49||.402||4th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|New York||2007–08||82||23||59||.280||5th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|