Former NBA player and coach, Isiah Thomas, has been criticized for his comments about the Indiana Pacers. He said that he could have coached the team to an NBA championship and prevented the Malice at the Palace.
Isiah Thomas is an American retired professional basketball player and the former coach of the Indiana Pacers. In a recent interview, he claimed that if he had been coaching the team during their fight with the Pistons in Detroit back in 2004, they would have won and prevented what happened at The Palace.
Isiah Thomas established himself as one of the best NBA players to ever put on a pair of shoes during his time on the court. However, the former Detroit Piston’s belief in his own talents isn’t confined to his time with the Bad Boys.
The great guard had a high perspective of his post-playing future during an NBA Summer League game. Thomas believes that he could have not only led the Indiana Pacers to an NBA championship, but that his sheer presence on the sidelines might have prevented the historic Malice at the Palace.
Before encountering certain roadblocks, Isiah Thomas had a famous playing career.
Another very cool Detroit Pistons painting in the Motor City, this one honoring Isiah Thomas, Jerami Grant, and Ben Wallace from the past and present. pic.twitter.com/iyEdFZfn1l
10 August 2021 — Eric Woodyard (@E Woodyard)
Despite the fact that he was ultimately eclipsed by Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas has earned a place in NBA history. During his playing career, the Pistons guard established himself as one of the league’s best players.
Isiah’s basketball career didn’t get off to the best start, despite his ultimate success. Initially, the future star battled with Bob Knight at Indiana University. Thomas’ skill eventually showed through, and he became a regular starter for the Hoosiers. He played two seasons on the varsity team, averaging 15.4 points and 5.7 assists per game while capturing the NCAA championship in 1981. He joined the NBA draft as a result of his achievements.
Thomas immediately signed with the Pistons as the second overall selection and picked up right where he left off. Despite his small size, the guard could do it all; in 13 professional seasons, he averaged 19.2 points and 9.6 assists, and he retired as Detroit’s all-time leader in points, assists, steals, and games played. During the 1989 and 1990 playoffs, he again helped the team win back-to-back titles.
Despite his famous on-court career, Thomas hasn’t been as successful in retirement. During his two coaching stints, the former guard failed to light up the league. He also had a difficult stint as President of Basketball Operations with the New York Knicks, when he was accused of sexually assaulting a club official in addition to his athletic blunders (he mishandled the organization’s salary cap and draft capital). A jury ultimately found that the former guard had sexually harassed Anucha Browne Sanders and created a hostile work environment, according to the New York Times.
During an NBA Summer League game, making some big statements
During his tenure as the Indiana Pacers’ head coach, Isiah Thomas draws out a plan. | Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images
Thomas, like many former players, has found a place in the media, where he uses his years of expertise to offer commentary on the contemporary game. However, during a recent NBA Summer League game, the Pistons veteran made some big comments.
Thomas was on the mike for the Pacers’ last summer league game when he flashed back to his own experience with the team, according to Nat Newell of the Indianapolis Star. For the record, during the early 2000s, the guard coached Indiana for three seasons.
According to Newell’s report, Thomas said, “I was the coach that [Rick] Carlisle replaced.” “I think I would have won a championship with that squad if I hadn’t been fired.”
The Pistons veteran also said that the historic Malice at the Palace incident would not have occurred if he had been coaching the Pacers in November 2004.
“I don’t think there would’ve been any malice at the Palace because I don’t think the Pistons fans would’ve behaved that way with me coaching that team,” Thomas said.
With all due respect to Isiah Thomas, he is perhaps overconfident in himself.
Because of his tremendous talents on the floor, Isiah Thomas is rightly regarded an NBA icon. Having said that, he’s probably still a little too cocky about himself.
In terms of his title claim, Thomas took over a Pacers club that had advanced to the NBA finals in 2000. However, when faced with a squad in flux, the coach failed to achieve any significant success. Indiana made the playoffs in each of Isiah’s three seasons as coach, but never advanced beyond the first round. Rick Carlisle, on the other hand, led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season after replacing Thomas.
While there are some qualifiers — you might argue that Thomas was laying the groundwork and would have had comparable success if he hadn’t been fired But the remainder of his coaching career indicates that isn’t the case. During his time with the Knicks and Florida International University, the Pistons legend struggled, which doesn’t exactly imply championship-caliber coaching skills. It’s also worth mentioning that, despite having coaches like Carlisle and Frank Vogel at the helm, the Pacers have yet to win a title.
It’s a little more difficult to make a definite judgment regarding his claim about the Malice at the Palace. While Thomas has a point – he is still loved in Detroit — you could equally argue that his attendance would have been meaningless. If fans were ready to disregard all manners and etiquette in order to aggressively fight Pacers players, it doesn’t seem like Isiah’s request that they conduct themselves would have made much of a difference. If nothing else, the former guard’s assertion that his mere presence might have prevented one of the darkest moments in NBA history strikes me as a bit arrogant.
Without getting into hypotheticals, one thing is clear: Isiah Thomas is still very confident in his skills, even in 2021.
Sports-Reference and Basketball-Reference provided the statistics.
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