ISIAH THOMAS – GOOD SAMARITAN?

Former NBA player & coach Isiah Thomas was introduced as the new head coach at Florida International University yesterday.

And out of the kindness of his heart, he agreed to forgo his salary, opting instead to work for free.

Well somebody pop the champagne, three cheers for Isiah!

NOT.


Yes, to those who don’t know much about Isiah and his… ahem, past, would be quick to say what a grand gesture this, particularly in this troubled economy.

Allow me to enlighten those who are unaware of Isiah’s sordid past.

  • Aug, 1999 – A group led by Isiah Thomas purchases the CBA (Continental Basketball Association) for $10 million.
  • March 2000 – the NBA offers Thomas $11 million and a percentage of the profits for the CBA. Thomas declines the offer.
  • June, 2000 – Thomas is offered the head coaching job of the Indiana Pacers but cannot accept due to league rules forbidding a coach from owning another league; Thomas announces he will sell the CBA
  • A few months later, after being shunned by Isiah, the NBA announces that the CBA will no longer be it’s “development” league and instead announces the creation of its own league, the NBA Development League.
  • October, 2000 – unable to sell his ownership in the CBA, Thomas places the league into a blind trust which is essentially the death knell to the CBA as there are no funds available to pay players, to buy plane tickets for away games, or to handle day-to-day operations.
  • Feb, 2001 – the CBA folds and declares bankruptcy
  • 2001-2008 – as head coach of the Pacers and later the Knicks, Isiah complies a less than stellar record of 187 – 223.
  • It was during his time as coach AND GM of the Knicks that things really got interesting.
  • In his two years at the helm the Knicks, a once proud NBA franchise became the laughingstock of the league, going 56-108.
  • In 2007, a jury ordered Knicks owner Madison Square Garden to pay $11.6 million to a former team executive who alleged she was sexually harassed by Thomas.
  • October, 2008 – Police Officers responded to Thomas’ New York-area home after a 911 call reported someone had overdosed on sleeping pills. According to police reports, officers found a man passed out and gave him oxygen until an ambulance arrived. Authorities never publicly identified Thomas as the victim, but a person familiar with the case confirmed to the AP that it was Thomas.

And now we’re all supposed to sing the praises of this man because he turned a salary to coach Florida International University?

Um…. no.

See, what you may not know is that Thomas is still being paid by the Knicks to the tune of $12 million over the next two years.

Suddenly that act of kindness has a not so silver lining does it?

And why do you think FIU would hire Isiah Thomas?

Because of his exemplary coaching record? Well we know that’s not the case.

Surely there are plenty of fine, young coaches who would jump at the chance to be a head coach. Why not give them a shot?

Or maybe, just maybe it was to garner national attention for an otherwise insignificant institution?

Said Thomas at the press conference in which he was introduced as the new FIU coach:

“I like rolling up my sleeves. I like taking some from the bottom and building it to the top. There’s a lot of risk in that and there is also a lot of reward in that. But that’s how I grew up. I want to take FIU to the next level and I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m willing to pay the price to do that.”

Yeah, you’re willing to pay the price Isiah… with $12 million you can afford to pick up the tab.

Good luck FIU. You’re gonna need it.

Til next time.

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