With the NBA season right around the corner, it is always nice to hear from one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. After his many failures as the New York Knicks head coach, Thomas has gone back to the college game and is trying to turn around the Florida International hoops program. So far, he has struggled at that as well, but is staying well versed when it comes to the league.
Furthermore, when it comes to opinions, “Zeke” doesn’t usually shy away, and when it comes to talking NBA hoops it is always good to hear from the two-time NBA Champion.
Isiah Thomas joined WDAE in Tampa with Dan Sileo to talk about this season at FIU and how he feels about the direction of the program, who he models himself after as a head coach, what kind of player he thinks he would be in the new era of the NBA, whether or not he would’ve teamed up with Magic Johnson back in the day the way LeBron James teamed up with Dwyane Wade, and whether or not he wants to get back to coaching in the NBA.
On the season at FIU and the direction of the program:
“I love the way we’re playing. We’ve been out on the road, we’ve played eight out of ten on the road and we’ve had a chance to win all of our games, probably with the exception of one, the one that was at Georgia State. We’ve led at the half of several games, the Maryland game which was on national television, we were winning that game and then DaJuan Wright goes out but you know it’s tough to beat teams early in the season out on the road. We’re consistently in every game, losing every game by two to four points so I’m happy with the way we’re playing. If those were home games those are wins and as the season continues to progress once we get into conference play and then you get into tournament play I think the experience is going to help us tremendously.”
Who he models his coaching style after:
“I’m probably a combination of probably three things. Coach Knight, Coach Daly, and my mother. I find myself saying a lot of things in practice that my mother said to me just in terms of raising me but I think with Coach Knight, the way he coached us in college was perfect and the way Coach Daly coached us in the pros was perfect. We were men in the pros and we were developing young teenagers in college. I think there was a toughness that was needed, there was a tough love that was needed when I was a teenager in college and when I developed and became a man I thought there was a wisdom and maturity that was needed that Chuck Daly provided.”
What kind of player he thinks he would be in the modern era of the NBA:
“You know this question comes up often. I honestly don’t know in this era if I would’ve been the same kind of player and the same kind of person. The way I was brought up, I mean Coach Knight, the way he coached he couldn’t coach in this era. I don’t know if I woulda been the same kind of player, probably wouldn’t have had the same kind of value, been as good of a teammate so all those things are important when it comes to winning. Now could I have put up 20 points and gotten 10 assists? Of course and that would’ve translated to X amount of dollars but I don’t know if I would’ve been as good of a player or as good of a person.”
Whether or not he would’ve teamed up with Magic Johnson the way LeBron teamed up with Wade:
“I don’t know if I would’ve teamed up with Magic Johnson but I could see myself teaming up with Larry Bird or Michael Jordan at that time. I think every player goes through the thing that LeBron went through and we kinda kid ourselves and we don’t take a realistic look at history. Every player has tried to move to another team at some point in time, a lot of players have moved to another team, and the great players when they get together it’s to win championships and every player wants to win a championship. Even though I get a lot of credit for staying in Detroit I was blessed in Detroit with great players. Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, John Salley, and those guys were great players. I was fortunate enough to play with them.”
If he wants to return to the NBA in coaching:
“As long as I’m in basketball and as long as I’m around the game and you will appreciate this when I say it, that I’m talking about it, in the gym, working with guys, I just want to be around the game. I love the game, I love working with the kids, I love working with the people so wherever life takes me, as long as it takes me in the game of basketball, I’m comfortable with it. My focus is here at FIU, I like the kids we have, we’re building a very nice program, and I think we’re making positive strides here.”