The All-Also Rans: Gerald Glass and Isiah Thomas will always have one iconic connection


In case you haven’t noticed, although I’m sure you have, this has been a pretty quiet off-season for the Pistons since the draft. So, in the spirit of having something (anything) to write about, I’m going to spend the next two weeks profiling some of my favorite Pistons who never made much impact on the team despite the fact that I irrationally expected great things from them.

Gerald Glass joined the Pistons when the Bad Boys were at the end of their run, the roster was quickly aging and the team was trying to retool its supporting cast around the few mainstays — Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer — who remained. In November 1992, fresh off a first round playoff loss to the New York Knicks that featured a few new ill-fitting veterans — Brad Sellers, Orlando Woolridge and Darrell Walker — surrounding  the core guys, the team seemed to realize it needed to infuse some young, rotation-caliber talent. Acquiring Gerald Glass from the Minnesota Timberwolves was part of that strategy.

The Pistons sent Sellers, who was a disappointment in his lone season as a Piston, and point guard Lance Blanks, a former late first round pick of the team who fell just a bit short of being the heir apparent to Thomas as the PG of the future, to the Timberwolves for Glass and Mark Randall, both former first round picks.

Randall’s stats didn’t quite measure up to his phenomenal mullet, so I didn’t exactly get excited that he would be a Piston. But Glass, on the other hand, was an occasionally dynamic wing. A young, athletic, 6-foot-5 slasher, he was a different type of guard than anyone the Pistons had on the roster at the time, and it seemed like he’d definitely find a role.

In just two seasons at Ole Miss, he established himself as one of the top scorers in that school’s history and was eventually named to the school’s All-Century Team. When the Pistons traded for him, Glass was coming off a second season in the NBA where he averaged 11.5 points per game on 44 percent shooting in just 24 minutes per game for the T-Wolves. In a three-game stretch in December of his rookie season, Glass scored 27, 24 and 32 points off the bench in consecutive games for Minnesota. He wasn’t much of a shooter (24 percent from three for his career) or a free throw shooter (64 percent for his career), but he’d certainly shown enough promise when the Pistons acquired him to get excited. Plus, Gerald Glass has to be one of the all-time great NBA names.

Glass’s Pistons tenure had its moments, too. He had 16 points and 6 rebounds off the bench in his second game as a Piston. He scored 20 in a start in place of Joe Dumars in his fifth game. He averaged 16.3 points per game on 61 percent shooting in a three-game stretch in January. Overall, he averaged 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in just 13.9 minutes per game as a Piston and probably had more sustained stretches of minimal contributions as the norm moreso than the bright spots I pointed out above. The Pistons didn’t re-sign Glass after the season. He went on to play overseas for a couple of seasons, had another brief NBA audition with New Jersey and Charlotte during the 1995-96 season and then finished his career overseas.

But, as that video clip above attests, he was part of an iconic Isiah Thomas play, one of the last Isiah made in his final injury-plagued seasons as a Piston. Truth be told, Glass didn’t do much of the work on that play. Isiah got the bounce through traffic (after getting a fantastic outlet pass from Bill Laimbeer), got it high enough so that it could be finished with a dunk and actually, it looked like the ball would’ve came damn close to going through the basket or at least hitting rim by itself if no one touched it. But credit where it’s due: someone had to put the finishing touches on that play. It wasn’t Glass’s best dunk, but it was a fantastic play and the fact that Thomas was the one orchestrating it makes it an enduring one in Pistons history, one that Glass will always be attached to.