Isiah Thomas: The Underrated Legend
In NBA annals, Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson is widely regarded as the greatest point guard in league history. And in recent years, Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry has redefined what the position looks like.
But FOX Sports NBA analyst Chris Broussard wants to make sure that one Hall of Famer is never forgotten: Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas.
In another edition of his "You Kids Don't Know" series, Broussard lists the reasons why Thomas was so remarkable as a player, beginning with who he played against and defeated.
"First, Isiah Thomas was a winner at every level. In 1981, he leads Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers to the NCAA Championship. Then he gets into the NBA, beats [Michael] Jordan in three straight postseasons. Then takes out Larry Bird, who was flanked by three other Hall of Famers.
"And then gets to the Finals and doesn't just beat Magic Johnson and the Lakers, he did it without a top 50 teammate. Jordan had [Scottie] Pippen, top 50. Bird had [Robert] Parrish and [Kevin] McHale, both top 50. Magic had Kareem and James Worthy, both top 50. Isiah had some very good teammates, don't get me wrong – Joe Dumars, Mark Aguire – but none of them are in the top 50."
Broussard also detailed the excitement that Thomas brought to the game during the prime of his career.
"Isiah Thomas was iconic. He had the game of "Tiny' Archibald but with the longevity that Archibald lacked. He had the pizzazz, the flair, the flash of "Pistol" Pete Maravich, but he did it while winning and not losing games. He had the iso ability of Kyrie Irving but with the understanding of the team concept."
Here's a little more for good measure.
Over the course of 13 NBA seasons, all with Detroit, Thomas had career averages of 19.2 points and 9.2 assists.
But the most important legacy he leaves behind, at least in Broussard's estimation, is that he was a trail blazer for small guards, considering he only measured 6 feet 1 inch, 180 pounds.
"He is one of just three small players, normal-sized point guards, in the 73-year history of the NBA to lead a team to a championship. There was Gus Williams in Seattle in 1979, Steph Curry in Golden State in 2015, and Isiah Thomas in Detroit. He is also just one of three players to retire averaging 19 points and 9 assists for their career. The other two? Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson."
In addition to his back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990, and his 1990 Finals MVP award, Thomas was a 12-time All-Star and 3-time All-NBA First Team performer.
And with his long list of accolades, Broussard believes it's finally time for Thomas to get his just-due.
"What more can I say? Isiah Thomas deserves top billing. Now you kids know how good Isiah Thomas was."