Isiah Thomas finds himself in familiar territory – fired by a basketball program, this time after three seasons as the head coach of the Florida International Golden Panthers. Thomas, who has had his share of failures with Toronto, the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks, now adds a collegiate pink slip to his unimpressive resume in his post-playing career.
Thomas never really picked up the program from its basketball obscurity, never winning more than 11 games during his three years as head coach of the team. Some might say, including Thomas himself, that he deserved to get the full five years of his contract in order to see his recruiting class through. The University didn’t specify to Thomas and to the media as to why they decided to terminate his contract.
Thomas wasn’t even paid during the first year at University Park, instead getting a deal promising him a revenue from ticket sales and more from game related income (Beverages and such). Alas, Thomas, whose reputation as a GM and a head coach, maybe even as a person, was questionable to begin with, couldn’t pick up the interest in the ball club in terms of recruits and the fans. FIU averaged just over 1000 fans per game last season, having a 6000 seater for an arena.
Thomas’ Knicks relations didn’t stop while he was head coaching at Florida, a hire that raised quite a few eyebrows to begin with in 2009. He has some sort of hold on James Dolan that keeps going to Thomas for advice, despite all the problems and bad deals Isiah Thomas brought upon the franchise. Forget about bringing this team to payroll heights never seen before without winning a playoff game. How about the $11 million settlement because of sexual harassment allegations? Thomas always pleaded innocence, but that was quite an expensive way to quiet things.
The Knicks actually hired Thomas as a consultant in 2010, but he had to give up on the position because of certain NBA rules regarding people working for a program while in contact with college players ineligible for the NBA draft. An outside view of things, you might think Thomas wasn’t completely set out to commit himself to his Collegiate job.
A big name as a player, both the University and Thomas forgot he isn’t exactly the most popular NBA persona out there. His recruiting, despite his claims that he was doing very well in Florida, Chicago and Indiana, hasn’t been worth mentioning. Only one top-100 recruit who actually fell for Thomas’ charm. Two years later, he has yet to average in double digits despite the underwhelming competition FIU deals with most of the time.
As to Isiah Thomas and how he sees things? Once again, he doesn’t understand why he isn’t keeping his job – I never been fired before for basketball reasons. This is the first time. When I was in Toronto, I was trying to buy a team and I left. When I was in Indiana, Larry Bird told me that he liked what I was doing but he was closer to Rick Carlisle. The whole thing in New York was crazy. This is the first time someone told me that I was being fired for basketball reasons.