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Monday, December 18, 2006

Isiah Rap

Mouthing and street ball go hand in hand. Mouthing has always been pretty popular in the street-wise NBA as well. But, somehow, you expect more maturity coming from the coach of the team. Enter Isiah Thomas.

Isiah Thomas, former NBA star with the Pistons and current head coach of the Knicks, has further sullied his misspelled name.

Let's be honest, things have not looked good for Isiah in recent times. Shall we run down the list of failures and foibles? Well, without doing any research--just off the top of my head . . .

There was the failure as a GM in Toronto . . .
The lackluster stint as the Pacers' head coach (wasn't he fired by Bird?). . .
The scandals as GM of the Knicks having something to do with escort services . . .
The debacle of the Larry Brown firing that required commissioner David Stern to mediate . . .
His failure to put together a team there in spite of shelling out mucho dinero to do so . . .
His having to step in as head coach after the departure of said Brown and not doing any better with the team than Brown did . . .
And, now, the brawl, which looks like it was instigated by Isiah's mouth.

It looks like the bad boys of the late 80's can't seem to grow up, even when they put on coach's garb.

By now you've seen the footage on ESPN. The Nuggets are up by 17. There's less than two minutes in the game. J. R. Smith of the Nuggets goes up for a lay-up and gets clothes-lined by Knicks rookie Mardy Collins. There’s some scuffling, a punch or two thrown, then when everything seems to be getting back under control, Denver Nugget star and NBA-leading scorer Carmelo Anthony comes back in and throws a sucker punch at Collins. The Association is expected to hand down suspensions and heavy fines sometime today, yada, yada, yada. If you’re an ESPN junkie like I am, it’s all you will be hearing about for the next few days.

What is only now beginning to come to light is this--Isiah Thomas may have instigated the whole thing. There the Knicks are, losing by nearly twenty near the end of the game, what’s unusual about that? Isiah starts crying about poor sportsmanship because the Nuggets’ stars are still on the floor. It’s as if Isiah doesn’t have enough trouble coaching his own team, now he’s trying to coach the Nuggets too. So he says something to Carmelo Anthony, who is on the floor, about how he’d better not try to take it to the basket.

Before we go any further, let me make this point. Isiah is a grown man. Carmelo is just a kid. I know he makes millions and is legally an adult and all that, but he’s only about twenty-two, people. He’s just a kid. You expect a kid to lose his cool in an emotional situation. You don’t excuse it, but you’re not surprised by it. What you don’t expect is for an adult, a head coach, to instigate it.

So let’s get this straight. Isiah is whining because his team is getting blown off the floor and coach Karl of the Nuggets hasn’t pulled his starters. "We had surrendered," Thomas said. "Those guys shouldn't have been in the game at that point in time." So he mouths to a player on the opposing team that he had better not take it to the hoop. "Don't go to the hole," he says to Anthony. If you watch him mouthing the words on ESPN it is clear that this is stated as a warning.

What is that?

If I were a player (and I’ve never been much of one) and an opposing coach made an implied threat like that to me, I would be going straight to the hole the next time I got the ball. News flash for Isiah, Carmelo Anthony is not your player. He answers to his coach, not you. Maybe if you put more effort into coaching your own players, and less into trying to direct the other team’s players, the Knicks could win more games.

Well, maybe not.

Now the Knicks homers are out in force defending Thomas. Their argument? It’s coach Karl’s fault for leaving his players in. Coach Karl was running up the score because coach Karl is tight with Larry Brown and wants to make a statement about Isiah’s firing of Brown.


What if all that is true? The bottom line is, if you don’t want to be blown out, play better. Look at Isiah’s statement again: “We had surrendered.” Hey Isiah, the game is over when the clock reads 0:00, not before. Besides, there were scrubs at the scorer’s table ready to check in when Isiah ordered the hit. Coach Karl was calling off the dogs.

So let me get this straight. Because Isiah thought Karl should have called it off sooner, and because in Isiah’s opinion the Nuggets were breaking some unwritten code of basketball etiquette, and because Isiah is tired of losing and frustrated, he is now resorting to intimidating opposing players and ordering hits on them.

Well, I guess that justifies it.

Isiah Thomas will be fired at the end of the season, if not before. I can’t wait. He was a great player, but his record in the front office and on the coach’s bench has been disgraceful. The sooner he is out of the NBA the better.

By the way, Alan Hahn at Newsday reports the following in his article here.

After Steve Francis suffered an ankle sprain when he took a jump shot and landed on the foot of the Spurs' Bruce Bowen, who had extended his foot under Francis, Thomas was asked what he would do if a player did that to him. "I'd beat the -- -- out of somebody," Thomas said Nov. 10.

The next night, the Knicks played the Spurs in San Antonio, and when Bowen got his foot under Jamal Crawford during a jump shot, Thomas started screaming, "Next time he does that, break his -- -- foot!"

Thomas then got into a verbal altercation with Bowen, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich -- another good friend of Brown's, by the way -- charged to midcourt, yelling at Thomas, "Don't talk to my players!"


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