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.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

DVD Review: “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals”

For years, the passion they shared for winning made Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird the most bitter of rivals. It also made theirs the most compelling rivalry in sports, driving the NBA to new heights of popularity in the 1980s. Narrated by Liev Schreiber, this all-new documentary tells the riveting story of two superstars who couldn’t have been more different — until they forged an unlikely friendship from the superheated rivalry that had always kept them apart.

And that’s how “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals” is described on its back cover. HBO Entertainment did a nice job outlining the duo’s relationship starting with their joint appearance as part of Team USA’s warmup to the 1976 Olympics and their clash in the 1979 NCAA championship game all the way through their respective retirements.

By now, most basketball fans are aware of the rivalry/friendship that Magic and Larry developed over the years, but this 90-minute documentary digs deeper into each man’s personality and puts their relationship into context based on what was going on in the country at that particular time. Bird was extremely introverted and for much of his career it wasn’t his style to be friends with an opponent. Meanwhile, Magic was an extrovert and loved being loved, so when Bird snubbed Magic before the NCAA title game, the relationship was purely adversarial for several years. That loss bothered Bird for years, and it wasn’t until Converse convinced the two players to shoot a commercial (in French Lick, Indiana, on Bird’s request) did the two men actually become friends.

The documentary also covers each player’s childhood, Larry’s first day with the Celtics, how their rivalry became fodder for racists in Boston and around the country, Larry’s reaction to Magic’s HIV revelation, and how their unselfish style of play effectively saved the NBA. The film relies heavily on interviews with the two players, and it’s refreshing to hear them describe the different milestones in their relationship in their own words. It’s funny, emotional and for those of us that grew up watching the two superstars battle in the Finals — plenty of nostalgia.

The only knock is the complete lack of bonus features on the DVD, so for viewers who have already seen the film on HBO, there isn’t any extra content to dig into. But that’s just a small gripe — on the whole, “Magic & Bird” is an outstanding production.

Bird compares the 1992 Dream Team with the 1960 Olympic team

Larry Bird (C) speaks on behalf of the members of the 1992 United States Olympic Dream Team, Clyde Drexler (L) and Michael Jordan, as that team is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame during enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts August 13, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The 1992 Dream Team was inducted into the Hall of Fame last night, and Larry Bird chimed in on the debate about which team was better: 1992 or the 1960 team that featured Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.

“I don’t know who had the best team, but I know the team in 1960 was a hell of a lot tougher than we were,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine the ’92 team getting in a covered wagon for eight days, going across the country, jumping in the Atlantic Ocean, swimming for six days, then walking 3,000 miles to the Coliseum in Rome for a dollar a day.”

Meanwhile, Bob Boozer, a member of that 1960 Olympic team had this to say:

“We were amateurs and we played against many of the older Euopean teams,” Boozer said. “They beat everybody by 43 or something points and we beat everybody by 42 but we were shooting with a soccer ball (which is how Boozer described the then-smaller international basketball) and we didn’t have the three-point line. When you shot a long jumper, it would change directions.”

He later admitted it would have been tough for anyone to beat that 1992 team.

DVD Review – March Madness: The Greatest Moments of the NCAA Tournament

March Madness is arguably the greatest sporting event in the world, so when the NCAA decided to put together a highlights package, there was plenty to choose from. The DVD has four distinct parts: Great Comebacks (including the 1998 “Comeback ‘Cats” of Kentucky), Buzzer Beaters (Bryce Drew, Christian Laettner, etc.), Cinderella Stories (’66 Texas Western, ’06 George Mason) and Legendary Performances (Magic/Bird in ’79, Isiah Thomas in ’81). Jim Nantz narrates and does a nice job of setting up the action, whether it took place in 1966 or in 2006.

In addition to the aforementioned topics, the documentary covers the ’05 comebacks by Louisville and Illinois to make the Final Four, Michael Jordan’s clutch shot in the ’82 finals, Keith Smart’s game-winner in the ’87 finals, Dwyane Wade’s triple-double as well as Jim Valvano’s N.C. State team that took down Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma. The film also highlights Shaquille O’Neal’s single-game record for blocks, Bo Kimble’s touching tribute to Hank Gathers and Bill Walton’s astonishing 21 for 22 performance in 1973.

Special features include highlights of three championship games: ’79 (Michigan State/Indiana State), ’82 (North Carolina/Georgetown) and ’83 (N.C. State/Houston). There is also an in-depth, uncut interview with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

All in all, this is a nice one-disc package that covers just about every buzzer beater and Cinderella story in the last four decades of the NCAA tournament.

2008 NBA Preview: #23 Indiana Pacers

Offseason Movement: The team traded Jermaine O’Neal to the Raptors for T.J. Ford (pictured). The team (supposedly) wants to run, and Ford is a lightning quick floor general who can make it happen. I thought the Knicks missed out on an opportunity to acquire Ford, but the Raptors probably weren’t interested in anything the Knicks had to offer. The team also unloaded Shawne Williams, who had taken up residence in Larry Bird’s doghouse after being arrested for possession of marijuana.
Keep Your Eye On: Brandon Rush, GF
The Pacers acquired Rush by sending draft pick Jerryd Bayless to Portland. He is a silky smooth wing who can shoot the ball and take it to the rack. He’s seasoned and is ready to contribute immediately. The Pacers are lacking athleticism, so he gives them some punch off the bench.
The Big Question: Is this a case of addition by subtraction?
On the surface, an O’Neal for Ford deal seems like a win for the Raptors, but the Pacers were able to rid themselves of O’Neal’s salary and at the same time replace Jamaal Tinsley, who has fallen out of favor with GM Larry Bird. The team’s talent level may have taken a hit, but its chemistry should be better.
Outlook: With Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster slated to start, the Pacers might have one of the most unathletic lineups in the league. Dunleavy is all right, but Murphy and Foster? Luckly, Ford and up-and-coming swingman Danny Granger give the starting lineup some punch, while Rush provides some juice off the bench. Drafting Roy Hibbert conflicts with the Pacers stated “run first” mentality. The ship is starting to turn around, but it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, unless the chemistry is immediate and substantial.

Check out our NBA Preview page for a look at every team. We’ll be posting three previews per business day, which will take us up to the start of the season on Tuesday, October 28th.

Related Posts