Skip to main content

Why Bobby Knight almost “took it outside” with Isiah's brother

Isiah-Thomas-Bobby-Knight

"There was the poverty line. Then there was the line below it. That's us." That's how Isiah Thomas describes growing up as the youngest of nine in West Side Chicago. He is not ashamed to say his family was on welfare, waiting in soup lines. As difficult their life was, the Thomas parents made sure education was never neglected - it was their ticket out of poverty. 

Young Isiah had his sights set on law school. Basketball was just a way of getting outside the four blocks he spent his free time in. If you played basketball, the team would sometimes travel. When the possibility of basketball being Isiah's ticket to success emerged, his father wasn't too enthusiastic about it. To him, it was just a form of entertainment; in his eyes, Isiah had to go to school and get a degree. 

But, as often, Isiah's mother, Mary Thomas had the final word. Quite literally. She was the one who organized a press conference and said: "My son decided to go to Indiana.” Isiah did no such thing; this was 100% her decision. Why did she make such a decision? Bob Knight. But if you were in their house when Knight visited to recruit Isiah, you'd probably think there was no chance Isiah will play for Indiana. 

Coach Kight was recruiting me to play for Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana. The next town over from Bloomington was Martinsville, Indiana, where the Klan started at. The Klan has a big presence in the state of Indiana. My brother asked him, 'When Junior's down there if something's to go down with the Klan, who's going to take care of him?' I thought it was a funny answer - coach Knight said, 'Well if we're winning, they will.'

Isiah Thomas, Club Shay Shay

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Thomas' brother wasn't being overly cautious. When Earl "The Pearl" Monroe was considering Indiana during the ABA days and saw all African-American players were carrying guns in the locker room. When Monroe asked them about the guns, they told him it was because “They got the Ku Klux Klan everywhere around here.” So Thomas' brother didn't find the answer as funny as Isiah did and challenged Knight. 

My brother didn't think that was funny, and they got into a back and forth. Then my brother said, 'Hey, we can take this outside.' Coach Knight stood up, took his jacket off, rolled up his sleeves, and went 'Yeah, let's take this outside.

Isiah Thomas, Club Shay Shay

Everybody in the house started panicking, trying to defuse the situation. Only one person didn't move one bit, and it was Mary Thomas. Isiah noticed she had a smile on her face and was nodding her head in approval. After things calmed down, Knight made a promise that sealed the deal.

He said 'I'm going to offer your son three things:
A. He gonna graduate from college.
B. He's gonna be a gentleman.
C. Everything I know about basketball I'ma teach him.'
And that was it.

Isiah Thomas, Club Shay Shay

Isiah quickly learned most of the rumors about playing for Knight were true. No-one was spared, no matter how talented they were. But as with most of his players, Thomas speaks of Knight in superlatives. Coach would get on you, but he always had your back.

Mary Thomas made the right choice.

Ryan Blackburn on the Los Angeles Lakers - “Somehow, they’re going to get out of the Russell Westbrook contract for an All-Star talent”

NBA analyst Ryan Blackburn blasts the Los Angeles Lakers - “Somehow, they’re going to get out of the Russell Westbrook contract"

Blackburn says that despite the Lakers throwing away tons of draft picks and cap space, they are about to land one of the top guards in the game for in return for one of the worst contracts in the league

Milwaukee Bucks guard Oscar Robertson and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Oscar Robertson claims he could beat Kobe Bryant 1-on-1 — “I taught him basketball!”

Oscar Robertson thinks he could beat Kobe Bryant one-on-one. Here's why I think he's wrong.

Too Short believes Jay Z's remake of 'Blow The Whistle' was more than just a diss song: 'I think he was thinking about signing LeBron'

Too Short believes Jay-Z's remake of 'Blow The Whistle' was more than just a diss song: 'I think he was thinking about signing LeBron'

In 2008, Jay Z did a remake of Too Short's "Blow the Whistle" as a response to DeShawn Stevenson's "overrated" dig at LeBron James. The message was on point but Too Short thinks it was more than just a diss song

Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant's rap skills: 'Sounded like Stephen A. Smith would rap'

Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant's rap skills: 'Sounded like Stephen A. Smith would rap'

Whenever Dwyane Wade hears Kobe Bryant rap, he also think about Stephen A. Smith.

Bill Simmons on the Rudy Gobert trade - “Gonna spend the next 48 hours…wondering if Minnesota just made the most inexplicable NBA overpay trade of all time”

Bill Simmons blasts the Rudy Gobert trade: "Minnesota just made the most inexplicable NBA overpay trade of all time"

Bill Simmons said he believes this may be one of the most inexplicable overpays in NBA history, and chances are, he is right

Instagram model Yasmine Lopez confirms she dated Carmelo Anthony: 'I was literally sitting next to him in the bed'

Instagram model Yasmine Lopez confirms she dated Carmelo Anthony: 'I was literally sitting next to him in the bed'

Carmelo Anthony's marriage with LaLa fell apart primarily due to his alleged unfaithfulness. Years after their divorce, one of Melo's rumored side chicks opened up.