Current Job: Head Coach, Florida International University (2009-present)
- Head Coach, New York Knicks (2006-08)
- Head Coach, Indiana Paces (2000-03)
Isiah Thomas had a successful run with the Pacers, leading them to 41, 42 and 48 wins in his three seasons at the helm. While he coached Indiana, Jermaine O’Neal, Al Harrington and Jamaal Tinsley blossomed. The Pacers typically played strong defense.
As a player, Thomas was as strong a competitor as anyone who’s ever played the game. He was equally tough and fearless. Even younger players would know who he is and respect his accomplishments as a player, and that might lead to them respecting him as a coach. Players respect greatness.
Where to begin?
Thomas hasn’t shown much focus lately. How many of you remember he’s still the head coach of Florida International? The way Thomas’ name pops up in any Knicks news, Florida International seems like a part-time job to Thomas. He’s too scattered. Coaching successfully in the NBA takes a supreme focus and willingness to log long hours doing tedious work like watching film, analyzing matchups and developing gameplans.
His Knicks teams were dreadful. Of course, New York’s general manager deserves most of the blame for putting together a hapless team. But on the court, the Knicks didn’t play particularly smart, tough or hard. Basically, they looked poorly coached.
Even if Joe Dumars remains the Pistons’ president, a team’s coach has some input on personnel moves. James Dolan certainly deserves some blame for pointing Thomas in the wrong direction, but Thomas’ tenure as the Knicks’ general manager was historically bad. I wouldn’t want him within miles of roster moves.
I really doubt Thomas is a legitimate candidate, but the longer the Pistons keep him in the candidate pool, the more time he has for someone to become smitten with him. Maybe Tom Gores will intervene and hire Thomas to help build fan support. It’s a longshot, but with Thomas post-retirement, absurdity seems to follow him.