Elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, Isiah Thomas was a member of the two-time NBA Champion Detroit Pistons during their “Bad Boy” era.
Currently an analyst on NBA TV, Thomas has had many different roles in baskeball.
After winning two NBA Championships with the Detroit Pistons where he averaged 19.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game, Thomas retired from basketball in the mid ’90s and transitioned into basketball front office.
In 1995, Thomas became the first general manager of the Toronto Raptors and was apart of the teams initial ownership group.
After his time with the Raptors, Thomas became the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. A National Champion under head coach, Bob Knight as a member of the Indiana Hoosiers, Thomas succeeded Larry Bird, who previously coached the Pacers to the Eastern Conference title. Thomas guided the Pacers 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 notables in Jermaine O’Neal, Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Al Harrington and Jamaal Tinsley and the veteran leadership of Reggie Miller. Larry Bird would untimately relieve Thomas of coaching duties and became the Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations. Bird named Rick Carlisle as Thomas’ replacement.
On the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, Thomas and I discussed coaching agaisnt Lakers big man Shaqulle O’Neal and late great teammate, Kobe Bryant. Bryant died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter, Gigi on Sunday, January 26.
“I did coach against them and I think I was one and one,” said Thomas.
“I was one and one against them actually. We beat them in L.A. and I remember the last play of the game.”
Thomas noted his experience coaching against Phil Jackson. “Now he’s [Phil Jackson] diagramming a play at the end of the game and now I’m coaching against him and I’m saying to myself: ‘I know he’s thinking that I’m going to think that he’s going to Kobe and Shaq,’” Thomas mentioned.
“But from playing against him I know that out-of-bounds play he’s gonna start up for Lamar Odom he’s not gonna start up for Shaq or Kobe because that’s what he did for Pippen when he beat us a couple of times as a player,” he added.
“So knowing the coaching tendencies knowing the player tendencies you know and playing against Shaq and Kobe they were just a nightmare they were just they were too good for the league. They were the dominant center and also the dominant perimeter player at that time.
“So knowing the coaching tendencies knowing the player tendencies you know and playing against Shaq and Kobe they were just a nightmare they were just they were too good for the league. They were the dominant center and also the dominant perimeter player at that time.”