Retired As Player, Became Coach
The Pistons fell apart during the 1993-94 season. Thomas appeared in his 12th All-Star game, but the Pistons ended the season 20-62. During the season's final home game, Thomas tore his Achilles' tendon. Rumors flew that the Pistons were interested in trading Thomas to the New York Knicks for a No. 1 draft pick. Thomas couldn't see himself playing for another team, so he decided to retire, though he later questioned the move.
As Thomas wrote in his book on the fundamentals, "I wish I'd given it more thought…. I think I had more basketball in me than I realized at that point, and since then I've thought that it wouldn't have been so bad to win a championship or two for New York and then hang up the sneakers."
Though he feels he may have retired prematurely, Thomas's statistics tell the story of a complete player. Thomas retired as the Pistons' all-time leader in points (18,822), assists (9,061), steals (1,861), and games played (979).
Thomas, however, did not leave the court. In 1994, he became part-owner and general manager of the Toronto Raptors. In 1997, he joined NBC as an NBA analyst and sportscaster, and in 1999, he purchased the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) for about $10 million. Thomas intended to boost interest in the nine-team league by adding Webcasts and lining up more sponsors. He dreamed of turning the CBA into an official minor league farm system for the NBA. With Thomas at the helm, the CBA became the only professional sports league in the hands of a minority owner.
In 2000, when Thomas became head coach of the Indiana Pacers, NBA rules forced him to put the CBA into a blind trust, and the league crumbled.
Thomas' time with the Pacers has been much more promising. In his first two seasons (2000-2001 and 2001-2002), Thomas coached the team to an 84-81 record. But he realizes, just as it took the Pistons years to build a championship team, it may take a few years for the Pacers. Once again, Thomas is chasing that dream of an NBA championship-this time as a coach.
He also devotes time to his family. In 1985, he married his college sweetheart, Lynn Kendall. They have two children, Joshua Isiah and Lauren.
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