Before Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Nick Van Exel, Tim Hardaway, Kenny Anderson it was Isiah Thomas who was the prime time NBA ball-handling artist.
Nobody, literally nobody, could take away the rock from him, as he was as much as dazzling as lethal for his opponents throughout his complete NBA career. He really set the standards, for all those undersized point guards out there, what they should do for their team in order to win the games and championships.
And make no mistake, the team he was in charge was winning – Detroit Pistons posted nine consecutive postseason appearances (1984-92) and won two NBA championships (1989, 1990).
While he was the best of the best in expressing his joy of playing the Game, for all of us who were watching him perform at the time, at both sides of the Atlantic, it really looked like he had the ball on the string! The effect he made on the world’s basketball in general, both as a player and promoter, from today’s perspective is immeasurable.
For many point guards out there his game and moves he made were simply contagious, in a measure his childhood hero, legendary Pete Maravich, influenced his game and moves while he was a youngster.
RELATED VIDEO LINK: Isiah Thomas showing up his ball-handling skill in 1988
1988 was a great year for both ‘Zeke’ and the Pistons – the team was finally able to bypass the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals and qualify to NBA final series with the L.A. Lakers. ‘Bad Boys’ would eventually lose the series by 3-4 but it was Isiah’s performance in the Game 6, when he scored 25 points in the third quarter alone while hobbling on a sprained ankle, that became the most memorable moment of the 1988 NBA finals.
But even then, at the peak of his power, Isiah knew that it will be hard work, the life value he became fond of during the childhood hardship on the streets of Chicago, which will eventually payout for him. So, even as established NBA superstar he continued to work hard on his game, especially during the Olympic summer of 1988, when he participated in the Dominique Wilkins All-Star Basketball Classic at The Omni Coliseum, Atlanta.
Four years later, at the very end of the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, Isiah would do something reminiscing of this – he would razzle-dazzle with his old paw Magic Johnson and make the crowd in Orlando Arena to stand up on their feet during the memorable closing of one of the greatest NBA All-Star Games ever.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is BN contributor and the author of the book ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ which can be found here.