Do you believe in second chances? How about a lucky third time then? All right, maybe a fourth? Say what you want about Isiah Thomas, but you have to admire the perseverance of the man.
He is like a jilted ex who went through your house with a baseball bat, and then when you got a restraining order came back and burned the house down. Now he wants to buy you dinner over a civil conversation and can’t understand why you are being so awkward about it.
“I still look at myself as a kid from the West Side of Chicago trying to make it,” he said in the New York Times. “You have your ups and downs; you have your highs and lows. Appreciate the highs and try to learn from the lows.”
If you made a phenomenal mistake, wouldn’t you appreciate the opportunity to make things right? Obviously several wrongs won’t make a right, but eventually he might get some wood on the ball.
Maybe Thomas deserves that opportunity, albeit in a lesser role. After all isn’t America the land of second chances (even if this is his third one)? Did you know current Knicks' coach Mike D’Antonio only has five more wins in two seasons than Isiah did when he coached in 2007 and 2008?
Sure Thomas put the franchise in a hole that current general manager Donnie Walsh has been trying to dig the Knicks out of, but Thomas himself was given the task of digging the Knicks out of the hole created by his predecessor Scott Layden.
Recently Thomas found a way to get his feet through the door of Madison Square Garden again. He will become a consultant, albeit one with NCAA ties and the ability to evaluate high school talent, providing the NBA gives it the green light.
Or maybe this is just a clever distraction by the Dolans, who had been preparing for this offseason for two years only to come away with Amar'e Stoudemire (who incidentally is now bizarrely claiming to be Jewish).
Another thing to consider is that while Isiah Thomas may be hated by Knicks' fans, and would be the last person other fans wants to see hired to run their teams, there is a lot of respect among current players for the man.
Tom Izzo is one of the greatest college coaches of the last decade, yet LeBron James refused to speak to him during the free agency process. Thomas had no such trouble when the Knicks sent him to speak to the Miami forward prior to the Decision.
In this sense Thomas would be instrumental in attracting 2011 free agents like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, if New Orleans does not trade him to New York sooner.
Whether this is out of respect for the man as a player or his negotiation skills remains to be seen. But who would not want to make deals with a man who overpaid for Jerome James and Jared Jeffries?
David Lee, who was drafted by Thomas and was the best player on the Knicks last season, told New York Daily News he was “shocked” to see his old coach back with the franchise.
The All-Star forward then went on to say,
"I absolutely respect him as a basketball mind. He knows his X's and O's and he has a great approach to the game. I don't think too many people would question that, especially from a coaching standpoint.”
Thomas has a history of being a very good evaluator of talent, drafting Lee, Tracy McGrady, and Wilson Chandler, among others, so maybe the Knicks have a genuine interest in his talents.
“I love basketball,” Thomas said to the New York Times. “You know how kids say they love the game? I’m for real about it. I love it. These are the things that make me happy: I like to ride my bike. Every now and then, I go swimming. And I love basketball. Those are my three passions.”
If only life was so simple.