Story of the Week
Isiah Thomas was born in Chicago in 1961. He grew up in an area plagued by drugs, violence and crime. His mother kept him aimed in the right direction. He played on Indiana University’s NCAA championship team in 1981, and when Thomas left Indiana U. after his sophomore year to enter the NBA, his mother made him promise to return to school to earn his degree. In 1987, while Isiah was playing in the NBA playoffs, his mother was fittingly accepting his diploma at graduation ceremonies.
It is that sense of purpose which has made Thomas successful, both on the basketball floor and off. His accomplishments are numerous. After his brief but successful college career, he was selected in the first round of the 1981 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, and, at just 6-1, became a great pro point guard. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star, earning MVP game awards in 1984 and 1986.
In 1982, he was the Sporting News Rookie-of-the-Year. He was instrumental in leading the Pistons to NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. By the time his brilliant 13-year career as a player ended in 1994, Thomas was the Pistons’ all-time leader in points, assists, steals, and games played. His 13.9 assists per game in the 1984-1985 season set a single-season record that has since been broken by John Stockton. Thomas, along with Stockton, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, is only one of four players with 9,000 career assists.
Isiah Thomas was inducted into the NBA Hall-of-Fame in 2000. He was afforded an even greater honor by being voted one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Thomas has left his mark since retiring from the NBA as a player. He became part owner of the expansion Toronto Raptors after leaving the Pistons. In 2000, the brilliant former point guard was named head coach of the Indiana Pacers. Coaching is a logical step for Thomas as he played like a court coach during his long tenure with Detroit.
Away from the floor, he is extremely active. He is the founder of the Isiah Thomas Foundation, the latter being committed to promoting and creating educational and recreational opportunities for inner-city youth in the Detroit area. He is also active in educational, anti-crime and anti-poverty programs that he became involved with as a Detroit Piston.
Isiah Thomas is absolutely accurate in his belief that mental toughness makes champions. He should know.
Last Week’s Trivia
What was Darryl Sittler’s claim to fame? On February 7, 1976, Sittler registered a single-game NHL record 10 points against the Boston Bruins in an 11-4 Toronto romp.
Trivia Question of the Week
As long as we’re on the subject of hockey, who broke the seemingly unbreakable NHL record set by Bobby Orr of 46 goals by a defenseman in one season? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.