Connections are more important than actual skills or achievements. That’s the only reasoning that makes sense when the news and rumors of the Detroit Pistons considering bringing in Isiah Thomas as their new general manager surface.
Yes, after wasting away all the credit from the previous decade – building a very successful playoff team that won an NBA championship and reached the finals a year later, Joe Dumars deserves to leave. The more we distance ourselves from the 2004 and 2005 finals, we’re faced with the option of it being a lot more to do with the head coach than the general manager, who famously took Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the 2003 NBA draft.
The Pistons changing so many head coaches in recent years is another bad mark on the Dumars résumé. One bad coaching job is one thing, but it’s impossible to think so many head coaches are this bad, while Dumars keeps making personnel mistakes with players and the people he chooses to coach the team and gets away with it.
But after we establish Dumars deserves to go, the news about Isiah Thomas simply don’t make sense. According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, Tom Gores (Pistons owner) is considering bringing Thomas, who failed at pretty much every capacity he filled in the league (and out of it) after he retired, to be the team’s new general manager.
Thomas, a hall of famer, led the Pistons to two NBA titles. He is the best player in the history of the franchise. But everything he’s done as a head coach for the Knicks, Pacers and in college basketball points towards the fact that he simply isn’t a good GM/head coach/adviser as he was as a player.
It took Donnie Walsh a few years to repair the cap mess Thomas created in New York (although the situation was pretty bad when he arrived). He destroyed the CBA (the league, not the player agreement) as its chief and did a terrible job as a head coach in New York and Florida International. He never got past the first round of the playoffs with a talented Indiana Pacers team and his days in the Raptors’ front office didn’t really create fireworks.
Yes, Gores doesn’t know much about basketball and loves big names: Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings for one, and now it seems that he’ll be using Joe Dumars’ backcourt partner for so many years as his replacement.
The only argument about Thomas’ past in his various management positions are the degree of his failures, before even getting into his personality, his ego, and the legal problems created while in New York. But the bottom line is that he has failed, for a very long time, with different teams, in different positions. That should be enough of a warning sign for a team in need of a new direction and smart decisions at the top to stay away from him. Great basketball players don’t always make great other things, and Thomas might be the biggest poster child for it.