Tuesday, July 3, 2007

What Have You Done With the Real Isiah?

Smart trades, good draft picks, even some semi-tolerable coaching. Isiah Thomas, it's like I don't know you anymore.

For the last three years, there have been two men in sports who were the easiest joke for a sportswriter to make: Matt Millen, General Manager of the Detroit Lions, and Isiah Thomas, General Manager of the New York Knicks. And after years of providing ammo for hacks like myself to craft diatribes around, Isiah's not taking it anymore. Matt Millen, on the other hand, seems to enjoy the abuse that he gets.

I really don't know what's gotten into Isiah. I still don't think he's that good of a coach, but since he's become the Knicks' coach, it's like his front office skills are taking a big boost. It's almost as if, through actually having to coach the team he assembled, how crappy they were.

And since he realized that there was no conceivable way that Jalen Rose, Steve Francis, and Stephon Marbury were going to be able to play in the same backcourt (not without the NBA changing the rules to allow more than one ball on the floor), he's almost like a brand new person. All of a sudden, he's not a complete embarrassment to anyone whose last name is "Thomas."

Let's look at his accomplishments since he ran Larry Brown out of town: Through a rash of early-season injuries, he learned how to rotate players, he drafted Renaldo Balkman, he got rid of Steve Francis, and got back Zach Randolph in return, somehow got Stephon Marbury to defer to Eddy Curry, and saved his own job in the process. That sounds like a basic list of things for any good coach, but for Isiah, it was as if he'd finally learned how to walk and chew gum at the same time. You know, he mastered the little things that we all take for granted, like not wetting ourselves.

And with the exception for his team quitting on him before ink touched paper on his contract extension, I really haven't had too much bad to say about him lately. I'm not really used to this, and quite frankly, I miss Isiah. I miss seeing him lurking in the shadows at MSG, hoping not to be hit by batteries thrown from the upper deck. I miss his excuses for why he made the most boneheaded of moves, because really...no one would have followed up trading for Steve Francis by trading for Jalen Rose. He just had a way about these things that made me look at his press conferences and wonder, "I wonder how much dishwasher detergent I could get him to eat."

And now, it's all over. Or it seems to be that way, anyway. I mean, the jury's still out on this Zach Randolph deal (mainly because he already has Eddy Curry on his roster...once again, he's got two of the same player) and there's still time in this offseason for him to make some more moves. He's already stated that he's going to make another trade and the word is, he's eyeing the Lunatic of the Lower Deck, Ron Artest.

Because I'm not that talented a writer, I'm begging and praying that Isiah not only makes this happen, but Ron Artest has his final meltdown right there in Madison Square Garden. I need something to talk about and Ron Artest, Zach Randolph, and New York City coming together is something of a perfect storm. Can you imagine the devastation? I can, and as always, it involves a car driving into the scorer's table.

Make it happen, Isiah. I need you to revert back into the hapless fool that we all know you can be.

by Tony Majestic

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