Isiah Thomas believes that inch-for-inch, he was better than Jordan, Magic and Bird

In an interview with FoxSports Bill Reiter, Isiah Thomas spoke about how his game compared to those of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. His comments are surprising, to say the least.

“I have no problem saying this at all,” he says. “[Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are] all 6-(feet)-9 and Jordan was 6-6 and a half. If they were all 6-1, it wouldn’t even be a question. They wouldn’t even f—ing rate. If they were all my size, s—, they wouldn’t even be talked about.

“I beat the s— out of them when they were that big. If we were all the same size, f—.” He stops to laugh good-naturedly. “Make them 6-1 and let’s go on the court.”

In basketball, there’s an obvious advantage to being tall, but if it were the only (or even driving) quality necessary to be great, Gheorghe Mureşan would have been a Hall of Famer.

Little guys have an advantage in quickness and bigger guys are closer to the rim. Isiah used his quickness to get by bigger defenders, while Jordan, Magic and Bird used their size to dominate smaller players.

Had MJ, Magic or Bird been 6-1 or 6-2, they still would have been great players. They wouldn’t have been as big, but that wouldn’t affect their ability to shoot the ball or find the open man. Isiah complaining about their height no different than if they complained about Isiah’s quickness. If you’re in the NBA, you’re gifted one way or another.

Thomas says in the piece that he’s terrible at public relations, and this is another example. But the guy can evaluate talent. The Knicks drafted pretty well under his tenure — David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye — and he helped the Raptors settle on Marcus Camby, Damon Stoudemire and Tracy McGrady. I doubt he would accept such a role, but Thomas would make a great VP of player personnel.

The article is really about Isiah’s exile, and Reiter mentions Thomas’ abilities in the area of player evaluation as a possible way back into the league:

In 2009, ESPN used the Estimated Wins Added stat, developed by respected basketball mind John Hollinger, to judge 20 years worth of general managers. Isiah was ranked the second-best evaluator of talent…

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Isiah, who can’t seem to stay out of his own way, PR-wise. He has talents that could be useful to NBA teams, but there is so much baggage and ego that goes along with him that it just makes it easier for teams to go another direction. However, Knicks owner James Dolan does like him, so there’s always a chance that he could end up in New York again.

Just don’t let him participate in any trade discussions.

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Melo says he’s like LeBron, not like Bosh

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony warms up at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010.    UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

The Melo Watch continues. The Nuggets are a somewhat disappointing 6-5 to start the season and are no doubt affected by the off-the-court drama involving Carmelo Anthony and his reported desire to play for a contender. In several chats with Peter Vecsey, Anthony compares himself to two of the three major players in last summer’s free agency frenzy.

“I’m not Chris Bosh,” Anthony declared. “We’re not the same person. What I do will be straight up. Management knows that.”

“I’m just like LeBron,” Anthony emphasized in the Nuggets’ locker room following Saturday’s practice. “It’s all about winning. That’s all I care about. I want the chance to compete at the championship level. All the other stuff is irrelevant.”

Bosh has become something of a punchline recently, but Melo’s decision to compare himself to the most reviled star in the NBA is a little puzzling. What Bosh did to the Raptors isn’t any worse than what LeBron did to the Cavs. In fact, you could argue that he handled his departure from Toronto in a better way because there weren’t any allusions that he’d be staying. On the other hand, until the moment LeBron uttered the words, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach…” Cavs fans believed that he was going to stay.

Maybe Melo was referring to the fact that Bosh has hinted that he wanted to play with LeBron and Dwyane Wade so that he’d get more television exposure or that he can now easily get the NBA League Pass, and by saying “It’s all about winning,” that’s probably the case. But it’s not a good idea to compare yourself to LeBron, not with the way he’s currently reviled in the city of Cleveland.

I’ve said it over and over — unless the Nuggets are sitting at .500 or below, it’s going to be tough to trade Anthony before the February deadline. It’s hard for management to sell the idea of trading away a team’s star when the team is safely in the playoff hunt. Fans are called fans for a reason — they’re fanatics, and are oftentimes delusional. (Seriously, just check some of the comments from Raptor fans when I insisted that the team should get what they could for Bosh early last season.)

Unless the Nuggets can somehow bring another star to Denver, they aren’t going anywhere this season, not with one-foot-out-the-door Carmelo leading the way. The best thing would be for the team to struggle early on, allowing both management and fans to realize that the team as it’s currently structured is a lost cause. Maybe then they can move on from Melo and get a few building blocks for the future.

Is there still hope for a Melo-to-Nets deal?

Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony reacts in the second quarter of Game 4 against the Utah Jazz in their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 25, 2010. REUTERS/Ramin Rahimian (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It appears that the Nuggets are still considering the deal, if one reads the tea leaves left by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

Denver scout Mike Bratz is courtside for Nets-Celtics game in Newark. His eyes stayed on Derrick Favors, who has played 5 scoreless minutes.

Bratz had no reason to be there other than to scout Favors (or any other potential trade pieces), as the Nuggets don’t play either team until Nov. 20 when they host the Nets in Denver.

The four-team trade had (has?) legs, but the Nuggets kept fielding offers and once Anthony reported to team functions, the franchise decided to stand pat for the time being.

I am adamant in my belief that if Anthony starts the season, the Nuggets will hold onto him until next summer. The West is somewhat depleted with the loss of Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer, so assuming they stay reasonably healthy, the Nuggets are a good bet to be sitting in the Top 4 come February’s trade deadline. At that point, it’s going to be very difficult for the Nugget brass to justify trading away their best player without causing a riot amongst the team’s fan base. Melo will be a good citizen (even if he’s been disingenuous about his desire for a trade) and at that point, he’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In my opinion, the Nuggets are going down the same road as the Raptors did last season, only Bosh’s agent never requested a trade last summer, so Toronto was flying a little blind.

The Nuggets won’t have that excuse.

2010 NBA Preview: #26 to #30

This year, I’m going to preview the NBA season by starting with the lowest of the low and working my way up to my Finals picks. If a franchise is a legitimate championship contender, I’ll focus on what stars have to line up for a title run. If a team is a playoff also-ran, I’ll identify the weaknesses that have to be shored up via trade, free agency or draft over the next couple of seasons to make it a contender. If a team is likely to miss the playoffs, I’ll take a look at the salary cap, and provide a blueprint for how the team should proceed in the near future to get back in the postseason.

#30: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs could very well finish with the worst record just one year after finishing 2009-10 with the best regular season record. This, of course, is all LeBron James’ fault. He wasn’t supposed to leave, but he did. Not only did he drag his feet during free agency and make it impossible for the franchise to make any other significant moves, he also broke up with the city of Cleveland in the most public way possible. (Hey, at least the Boys & Girls Club made some money off of the deal.) The Cavs are trying to look forward, but it’s tough when you’re planning to start Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon on the wing and are depending on a 34-year-old Antawn Jamison to be your go-to scorer. Jamison and Mo Williams do bring some offense, and Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson will keep the front line competitive, but this team is seriously lacking in talent, specifically at shooting guard and small forward. Byron Scott is a good coach, but he’s going to have a tough time winning more than 25 games with this group. The good news, if there is any, is that the team is not in salary cap hell. They project to have about $10 million in cap space next summer and nearly $30 million in the summer of 2012. But there’s more bad news — it’s going to be tough to attract free agents to Cleveland, especially after Dan Gilbert’s open letter to LeBron.

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Turkoglu takes a shot at Bryan Colangelo

Jan 28, 2010 - New York, New York, USA - Toronto Raptors forward HEDO TURKOGLU celebrates a point during the NBA basketball game Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Toronto Raptors defeated the New York Knicks 102-101.

Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo has had a rough few months. Recently, he took a shot at Chris Bosh and implied that he quit on the team late in the season.

Hedo Turkoglu is no fan of Colangelo, and he had a few choice words about the situation:

“People have to realize something is wrong with that organization and nobody wants to go there any more,” he said in a phone interview from Turkey, where he is captaining the Turkish national team at the World Championships. “It’s not just the players who see this.”

“It’s funny that people will talk behind your back,” Turkoglu said of Colangelo. “If he was feeling this way, why not have the guts to say it during the season? Why not say it to Chris? Now that Chris has left, it’s not nice to say those things.

“Chris has been a franchise player and he did a lot of good things for the Raptors,” Turkoglu added. “I don’t think Chris is the type of player to quit on his teammates.”

Remember, Turkoglu was the one who agreed to terms with the Blazers last summer and then changed his mind because he wanted to play in the more cosmopolitan city of Toronto. So he’s a little flaky in his own right.

Still, the Raptors are a mess. Given his recent track record, I wonder how long they’ll keep Colangelo around.

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