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IU's other Hall of Famer is, like Bellamy, a player who is often underappreciated in comparison to other icons of his day. Isiah Thomas was one of the NBA's greatest floor generals, but falls behind 1980s icons like Magic, Bird and Jordan in much the same way Bellamy is forgotten in favor of Chamberlain and Russell.
After his two-year run at Indiana ended with a national title, Thomas leaped from strength to strength in winning All-Rookie honors on a Detroit Pistons team that won 18 more games than in the previous year.
Thomas' first two teams and last two teams missed the playoffs, but in between, the Pistons made nine straight playoffs, including an NBA Finals loss and two championships.
Individually, Thomas cracked five straight All-NBA teams starting in his second season. His final year, an injury-shortened 1993-94 campaign, was his only year that did not include an All-Star appearance.
In each of those five All-NBA seasons, Thomas had to score 20 points per game because the Pistons were not yet the defensive force they would become in the championship seasons. The 1986-87 team was Detroit's first top-10 defensive team, and as a result, those Pistons fell only one win short of the NBA Finals.
By 1988-89, the Pistons had six players averaging at least 13.5 PPG, although one was the departed Adrian Dantley, who was traded for Isiah's close friend Mark Aguirre. With that kind of balance and the league's second-stingiest defense, the Pistons' ascension to NBA champions seemed practically inevitable.
Thomas still stands seventh in NBA history with 9,061 assists and 14th with 1,861 steals. Unlike Walt Bellamy, Isiah was inducted into Springfield immediately, getting in on his first ballot in 2000.
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