Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie has a look back at the 1988 NBA Finals, particularly at Isiah Thomas. Dwyer mentions Thomas’ appearance talking about that series years later with Dan Patrick on ESPN:
The Pistons’ captain attempted to explain, decked out in a ridiculous burgundy’ish blazer, why he could not attempt to articulate just how much that 1988 run to runner-up status meant to him. Thomas had, maybe, two minutes to explain to Patrick why he was so emotional over a Finals loss that happened just a half-decade before (as if, in 1994, 1988 was ancient history), and he just could not.
“You wouldn’t understand,” he kept telling Patrick. Not in a dismissive way. Not in some jock-ish way that precludes anyone from dropping 40 in an NBA game from ever “getting it.”
Perhaps there was some of that. But less in Isiah at that point than I’ve seen in just about any other athletes who want to tell me what’s what.
No, it was in the same way that none of us will ever understand another person’s greatest regret in life. Their longest fall. Their toughest defeat.
I’ve watched the show that Isiah said that on several times over the years when ESPN would replay it. The way Isiah said, ‘You wouldn’t understand …,’ sounding as if he was seconds away from bursting into tears, always gets me.