Some teams never learn

What is the world coming to?

I turned on my computer today to see this: Larry Brown out as coach of the Knicks. Isiah Thomas? In.

Wait. What?

What spurred this? Well, part of it is obvious – Larry Brown wasn’t working out. Some of it might be a little “copy-cat”-ish – after all, a current GM replaced his head coach with himself and recently went on to win an NBA title.

But just because Pat Riley made the quick transition from GM back to coach doesn’t mean Isiah Thomas should be following suit. I mean, Pat Riley had been a successful coach before. I can’t believe any group of owners would ever put their trust into anything Thomas suggests, based on his track record. Are the Knicks really that dense?

Let’s go through this guy’s resume: Two time Finals champion, multiple time All Star, one of the NBA’s Top 50 players, ambassador to the game, hater of Michael Jordan. All Hall of Fame worthy stuff. But what happened upon retirement?

The Toronto Raptors. The CBA. The Indiana Pacers. The New York Knicks. GM, Owner, Coach, GM again. Coach again. There’s one common line through all of these endeavors: failure.

Isiah Thomas, who drafted Tracy McGrady and star-to-be Channing Frye, should stick to being a draft-day expert. He should be on ESPN, replacing Chad Ford and becoming the Mel Kiper of the NBA. He should not be making these decisions while fully employed with any professional team, simply because every good draft pick comes equipped with several horrible coaching and managing decisions.

Larry Brown needed to go. He took the job in New York because he wanted the ridiculous paycheck, the exact same reason Phil Jackson traveled back to L.A. His heart wasn’t in it. You could tell. He’s a restless man who doesn’t care much for anything but himself, his legacy, and his paycheck.

No, I can’t say that. I don’t know the guy. But based on the path he’s taken throughout his life, that’s the general consensus. He’s a hired mercenary, a bringer of improvement and toughness. He’s delivered on most of his promises, has improved nearly every team he’s taken over, and is a master technician of plays and themes. But he shouldn’t have been in New York. No one could make that team worthwhile. New York can only improve though time. They have too many contracts that need to expire. They have too much animosity throughout their roster to ever gel as a true team. It will be three years before the Knicks can even attempt to rebuild, and that’s only if they don’t trade their players for even worse contracts. Nothing would surprise me now.

Larry Brown never could have won with that group, and he was a fool to even try.

But Isiah Thomas? This is like a punchline to a Bill Simmons article. We all thought that no one would be stupid enough to put Isiah Thomas back in charge of any team during its day-to-day game management.

Well, it turns out that someone was that stupid.

If anyone wants to know how Isiah will do, just ask Donnie Walsh and the Indiana Pacers. After reaching the NBA Finals in 2000, Isiah took over the team and promptly underperformed for two years. When he was replaced, the Pacers finished the season with the best record in the league. Is it a coincidence that Thomas’s two seasons of hovering around .500 were book ended by the two best seasons in Indiana Pacers history? Or was he really that bad?

Well, I guess we’ll get a chance to find out. Welcome back to coaching, Isiah. Good luck.

I really hope you have your draft pick for next year. You’ll need it.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 23rd, 2006