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Isiah Thomas: Still suffering from small man’s disorder apparently

We made a big deal, rightly so, out of Scottie Pippen’s dumb comments about the Pistons a couple weeks back. Well, in fairness, former Piston Isiah Thomas has now joined him in underselling how good a few of his Hall of Fame opponents were, namely Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

Thomas is probably the best Pistons player of all time, and some of my favorite memories from childhood involve watching Thomas play. He was a warrior who cared more about winning than perhaps any player except Jordan. Since his playing days, however? Well, his record as a basketball exec speaks for itself and he’s done numerous things to suggest he might be a bit of a jerk. These comments to Bill Reiter of Fox Sports (via Deadspin) do nothing to disprove that jerkish reputation:

“I have no problem saying this at all,” he says. “They’re all 6-(feet)-9 and Jordan was 6-6 and a half. If they were all 6-1, it wouldn’t even be a question. They wouldn’t even fucking rate. If they were all my size, shit, they wouldn’t even be talked about.”

Now, it’s worth noting that these comments probably aren’t a result of Isiah simply thinking that he was the better player than all three. Bird and Jordan allegedly helped conspire to keep him off the Dream Team. And Johnson, who Thomas was friends with when they were players, blasted Thomas in a recent book, which Thomas obviously wasn’t happy about.

Reiter’s piece is lengthy and well worth the read for Thomas fans, of which I still consider myself despite the often childish way he has conducted himself over the years. I’m generally not surprised when people who are as competitive as Thomas was on the court turn out to be kind of petty off of it. The same can certainly be said about Jordan and Pippen, among others. The difference is, Thomas has seemed to burn more bridges than just about any other former NBA great, which is why he’s coaching a small college team rather than working in the league.

16 Comments

  • Mar 31, 201110:09 am
    by bob

    Reply

    yeah isiah isnt as glamorous or as media savvy as jordan.  he also was not the best player ever, and was disliked by the best player ever.  ill still root for him though over jordan.  jordan is a lot easier to like, but the fact is if you are a piston fan its hard to get past how he talked down about detroit and made sure isiah didnt get on the dream team, which he deserved to be on.  ill still back isiah over jordan any day.  magic ill take over isiah though since he went to michigan state.

    • Mar 31, 201111:41 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Jordan was 100 percent wrong to help force Isiah off of the Dream Team. It was petty, and Thomas deserved to be on it.

  • Mar 31, 201110:46 am
    by Normal2

    Reply

    Chuck Dailey said the same thing.  How is Isaiah saying it any different?  Some people who were great at something holds a competitive fire that will burn with them till the day that they die.  That’s what made them great in the first place.  A person who was great at something looks at the world differently then a person who looks at them for their greatness.  When the greatness fades away, then the great holds on to that greatness even though it’s not there anymore.  The person who looked at that person for his greatness starts to see the flaws and it’s multiplied because the greatness is not there to cover it up anymore.
     
    Peace.

    • Mar 31, 201111:40 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      No one is debating his greatness. But the way he’s conducted himself to his peers both during his career and after it ended has undoubtedly hurt his legacy. People he played against didn’t just hate him from a competitive standpoint. They hated him because they thought he was two-faced and a jerk off the court. Magic and Bird were bitter rivals who wanted to kill each other every time they played. But they didn’t conspire to keep each other off the Dream Team. Isiah undoubtedly burned bridges, and that has cost him opportunities. He’s basically exiled from a league he loves because people in the league just don’t like him.

      • Mar 31, 201112:50 pm
        by Normal2

        Reply

        Good Point..I agree with you, i’m just saying that now that he’s not a great basketball player anymore, what he did and what he is doing now is being magnified because he doesn’t have that greatness to cover it up and keep our minds off of it anymore.  if He said what he said about Magic and Jordan being the same size as him while he was playing and went out and won..then how would those comments look?  Would he still look like a Jerk?..maybe he would but we would be talking about how he backed up his words with his greatness.  His greatness is the past so there’s nothing to focus on but HIM now…but in his mind, he is still holding on to that greatness and that’s why he makes comments like that.  At least that’s what i think.  But i understand where your coming from also.

        • Mar 31, 20111:30 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Yeah. The more time has gone on, the more he seems to fear that people forget about him, so his statements get more and more biting.

  • Mar 31, 201111:23 am
    by Glenn

    Reply

    Great comment.

  • Mar 31, 20112:56 pm
    by rick

    Reply

    It is not like the Hall of Fame and the rest of the League is doing him any favors. Thomas regardless of what you think bought Detroit greatness and will forever in my mind be cherished. The obvious thing is to side with management, but it is not like Davidson was the greatest personable person to be around. Do you remember 04 championship Presser and his rant. I still like him but lets not allow public perception outside Detroit affect how you feel about someone who, Chauncey and Rip said they emulated their games after, make you feel different about him. I am glad Isaiah Ruined the Knick’s , wish it were the Bulls or even Celtics. Why do I care how he runs those teams? Those are rivals to the Pistons. Jordan is just as bad when it comes to management if not worse and he gets a pass and Thomas doesn’t. At least in Detroit he should get one. I bet Grant Hill gets more love than most here than Thomas, and what the hell has he done or ever did for Detroit? So what he said what he said WAS HE suppose to say they were greater than him? He probably would have been better than them if he had their height, but he might not have had the same drive and determination. That alone makes him one of the greatest, and paved the way for short NBA ballers like Will Bynum.

    • Mar 31, 20118:12 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “Thomas regardless of what you think bought Detroit greatness”

      When did I ever say that he didn’t? The point is, Thomas has cost himself the chance to work in the NBA because a lot of people really dislike him. It has nothing to do with how I or any fan feels about him. I think he’s great, largely based on watching him when I was growing up. It’s not fans who by and large have a poor opinion of him, it’s peers in front offices, it’s people he used to compete against, it’s people who hold actual power in the league. Thomas obviously wants to still work for a NBA team, and the reason he isn’t is completely his fault. Doesn’t change the fact that I loved watching him and think he’s one of the three or four best athletes in Detroit sports history.

    • Apr 1, 201110:40 am
      by Tim

      Reply

      Jordan gets a pass? In what universe? He gets the piss ripped out of him for what a bad GM he has been. But he has improved incrementally. And more importantly, he doesn’t get under everyone’s skin. It’s a basic law of the world. People lose their jobs a lot more often for being unlikeable than for being incompetent.
      Also, I don’t know about giving someone a pass just because he’s screwing over another franchise. It certainly means I am less bothered by someone’s poor track record. But I am not going to be a Donald Sterling fan just because he is associated with the Clippers and not the Pistons.

  • Mar 31, 20118:32 pm
    by Isiah Fan

    Reply

    He’s not saying he’s better than these other guys.  He’s just saying if they were his size he’d kill them.  I can relate.  Being kind of short at 5 ft 8 and playing guys 6 ft tall or more, which isn’t even the same size difference, being able to compete and beat them, you just know if size wasn’t the advantage it was, you would destroy them.  How many people 6 ft 9 play basketball and are just awesome – a lot of people get by on height.  How many people are Thomas’ size?  He was 1 in like 50 million, not 1 in a 100,000 or so 6 ft 9 guys who can play bball.  He must have just been awesome.
    I have no problem with what he said, and Magic definitely respected his game.  The only one that compares skill wize was Jordan, but it’s hard to compare.  It’s hard to play people 5 inches taller and think it’s an even competition.  Isiah dominated at every level being short, a champion.  I think he knows what he’s talking about and maybe he’s not being humble but he’s probably absolutely right.

    • Apr 1, 20118:59 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I don’t disagree with Thomas. He’s unquestionably one of the greatest little men to ever play and got the best of much bigger players routinely.

      I just don’t like the fact that he continually says stuff like this. It’s an insecurity about his legacy, and really, he shouldn’t be insecure about it. People know how great he was. But the fact that he so often feels the need to spout off and tell everyone distracts from how great a player he was. And it’s not just about his playing ability. Have you heard the dude’s comments about his GM ability? He recently said that he was “close” to building a contending team in NY with his Curry/Randolph/Marbury trio that never even sniffed the playoffs.

    • Apr 1, 201110:46 am
      by Tim

      Reply

      How is it any different for Thomas to overcome being short than it is for someone big to overcome being not all that great at basketball? It would make sense if we all started with the same amount of athleticism and natural ability. But we don’t, so look at the whole package. You don’t hear people like Shaq saying that if only he could shoot like Reggie Miller, he’d be so much better than MJ and all the greats. It’s ridiculous. So appreciate Thomas for what he was–incredible. But don’t complain about his being at a disadvantage because he was missing something another player had. He had lots that plenty of other players were missing.

  • Apr 1, 20115:39 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    i suppose the fact that Isaih is right doesn’t matter? Magic revolutionized the game by being a 6’9″ point guard who could rebound and start his own break, see over the defense and use passing lanes no other point guard could even see. Magic’s basketball IQ was also the highest of any player not named Dennis Rodman. But if he was 6’1″ – there would have been no comparison. And like Rodman said, Bird would have been just another very good player if he was black. MJ was the clutchest performer i have ever seen and one of the greatest athletic talents. But with all the bad blood between them, you cannot really expect Isaih to give Jordon his propers, can you?

    • Apr 1, 20119:03 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      No, I don’t think he was necessarily wrong either. And no, I don’t expect him to pat those guys on the back. I just would like him to stop talking honestly. Between him constantly, in every interview he does, it seems, feeling the need to remind people how great he was or feeling the need to talk about how he didn’t get fair treatment as Knicks GM or Pacers coach or all of the other things he’s flopped at doing over the years, I’d just like him to realize that those things actually distract from his playing career. People who weren’t old enough to see him play are going to remember him for being the crazy dude who not only thought spending out the ass for Curry/Randolph/Marbury was going to net a championship, he’s the guy who continuously defended doing it after it so obviously failed.

      It would be nice if Thomas would focus on, you know, his current job, coaching a college basketball team that he doesn’t seem to give his full attention to.

      • Apr 2, 20112:10 pm
        by rick

        Reply

        The fact of the matter is you know as well as I do he was asked the question. I am pretty sure he did not go into the interview and start asking questions to himself. The person who asked him got his honest opinion. If someone asked you the same thing and you knew in your heart that you were better you would do as Thomas and answer accordingly. Either you love him or hate him. I do not think their is any in between because if their is it is because of all the negative that has been talked about and not the positive. The things he did in Detroits community should outweigh some of the negative things he has done and the last I checked no man is immune to the trials and tribulations of man. That includes you too sir!
        Now is it his fault all those players dogged it ?or is because the NBA hype machine said these guys were way ready than they really were? GM in the NBA is a in exact science and it is obvious by the four or five teams that have won titles in the last twenty years.To act like Larry Bird is building a championship team in Indiana is laughable as well as what Jordan is doing in Charlotte. I am going to say Jordan is only in it to try and get back at Reinsdorf anyway he can. (SEE Tyrus Thomas acquisition). What Thomas has done is try and get the CBA running with his own money , turned Indiana into a contender he did pick up  Jermaine Oneal and draft Damon Stoudemire, Marcus Camby in Toronto, Al Harrington in Indiana. Had Indiana a few games from the Finals.
        In his personal life he has had two missteps that I can think of. The one with the woman in New York and his pill episode. Did Jordan not cheat on his wife and settle? Did Larry Bird not deny his daughter? Did Magic shock the world back in 91 with his revelation of having HIV? My point is everybody screws up but it seems like when Thomas does it he is a cast off. They are all human when you look at it and it is sickening to think that  he gets a raw deal in the league and sometimes around here. Had he done any of these trangressions I am pretty sure he would be loathed even more.
        I am not hating on anyone inn here I just find it sad that he gets opined so hard for stating his opinion about a question that he was asked. If the question was about his current job status I am pretty sure he would have answered accordingly. Don’t just give me a small sample of what he did in New York as evidence that he no longer has it. What about Indiana?

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