A lot has happened in the last few month in the NBA including the Chicago Bulls’ hiring of their new head coach, Billy Donovan.
Appearing on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, Naismith Hall of Famer, Isiah Thomas tells me likes the hire.
“I think it’s a good hire,” he said.
“And the reason why I think that it’s a good hire is Chicago is a young team. And not only they are a young team, they’re a young team that Billy will be familiar with their talent because he scouted all of them when they were in high school; so he knows exactly what he’s walking into, the type of players he’s about to coach so I think Chicago has got a chance with Billy and Maurice Cheeks coming back home, I think that’s going to be a great situation for the Chicago Bulls.”
Chauncey Billups like Isiah Thomas won an NBA Championship as the starting point guard for the Detroit Pistons. Billups retired from basketball after the 2013-14 season and the Pistons retired his jersey in 2016.
It was such an honor,” Billups told me.
“I just remember watching Isaiah [Thomas] and Joe [Dumars] and those Bad Boys just dominate. I never knew that I could make it to that level to one day have my jersey in the rafters and be neighbors with them in the arena. I never thought that was possible for me, so you could imagine how I feel.”
Billups was recently hired as a lead assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers under head coach, Ty Lue.
Million Dollar Question: Was the nod long overdue or right on time?
“I think it’s long overdue,” Isiah Thomas told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“But just because it’s long overdue doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been studying. So what Chauncey has had the benefit of because it’s long overdue is that he’s had more classroom work. You know, he’s had more time to study and hone his craft to get it right and to make sure that’s able to give the right information to the players when they need it.”
Ben Wallace played on the Pistons’ 2004 NBA Championship team. An undersized power forward and center, Wallace was listed at 6’9″ 240 lbs.
His point of entry into the league is even more interesting. Wallace was brought into the league as an undrafted free agent by the Washington Bullets out of Virginia Union University.
Wallace became a Piston as compensation in the Grant Hill sign and trade deal with Orlando Magic after averaging 4.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and almost 1 steal in 24 minutes per game for the Magic.
In his first season with Detroit, Big Ben averageed 6.4 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks per contest. “Coming from a small HBCU, it was definitely a different route,” Wallace told Fox Sports Radio’s Kelsey Nicole Nelson.
“A road that’s not well traveled at all and but for me it was a dream. I wanted to do everything I could to to accomplish that dream. So coming from Virginia Union was real humbling, made me humble, it made me hungry The NBA did not call my name. So I had a chip on my shoulder and I wanted to make those team take notes and be aware that they missed out. So, that route, it kept me home and kept me humble. And it kept me hungry and kept me excited about the game. And if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t do it no other way.”
Although he averaged 5.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists for his career, Wallace was a four-time NBA All Star, an NBA Champion and a four-tie Defensive Player of the Year Award recipient.
Is Ben Wallace a Naismith Hall of Famer? “Absolutely,” Isiah Thomas tells me.
“Every Piston is a Hall of Famer! I mean, if real is real, right? You look at what the Pistons championship teams have done, who we are and the sacrifices that we made to be the best team. If you’re talking about rewarding teams and you’re talking about rewarding individuals for being champions, then you’re talking about Ben Wallace, Bill Lambeer – both of them are Hall of Famers.”
While on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, Isiah Thomas and I also discussed Derrick Rose. This season, Rose averaged 18.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists in 50 games for the Pistons this season.
Injuries derailed Rose in past years and now the point guard is back on the right track. “I hate that he got hurt first of all, you know,” Isiah Thomas tells the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“Because coming out of Chicago and then playing for the Chicago Bulls and then being the youngest MVP and having the type of success that he was having, and then the humility and humbleness that he’s always carried himself with…that’s Chicago. And when he got hurt and he was bouncing around the league, I was so happy that he got to Detroit because now I can not only bond with him, but I knew that we had a fan base that would accept Derrick Rose as a person and appreciate (key word: appreciate) the type of player that they were getting in the latter stages of his basketball career. Now I think because the Pistons fans appreciate Derrick Rose, I think that it elevated his game a little higher and made him feel a little better about himself and gave him a little bit more belief… and that’s that Detroit love and community from a basketball standpoint man…when they get behind you and push you – look at me; a little guy… I won back-to-back championships because of that Detroit love and that Detroit connection. When they get behind you and hey…they elevate you and they lift you and they hold you up and they fight for you.”
Thomas, like Rose are both Chicago natives; Rose from the city’s south side and Thomas from West side. I asked Thomas what it was like being from the Chi will suiting up for the Pistons. “It was an adjustment,” he said.
“Because every time I went back home I got my family and my friends and all of the neighborhood from the West Side of Chicago; they’re like, ‘Junior we love you, you know…we want the Bulls to win!’ So giving your people tickets and seeing them cheer for the other team in the stands of course that was an adjustment but, my job of course was to always break their hearts and to make sure that MY team won and their team lost.
Thomas won two Championships with the Pistons, I asked him what it’s like to win a Championship. “When you’re at the top of your sport and you know that there’s nobody, no other team, no other person that can beat you,” he said.
“And you beat ‘em all and you get to stand on the top of the mountain and say: ‘I beat you and I beat you and I beat you.’ And all they can do is nod in agreement. From a competitive standpoint, there’s nothing like it.
“When Mike Tyson was fighting and I got to know him pretty well and his championship moments when you’re the king of the hill and there’s no person that can beat you, that is such an intoxicating feeling. You wish everybody could experience it but, the champion who does… that’s what makes LeBron James, Jordan and Kareem, Magic, myself, Bird… once you get that feeling, you don’t want anybody else to have it. So you train harder. You work harder because you don’t want to lose that feeling.”