Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Isiah Thomas Knows How to Waste Money

Zeke -- nuff said
"Can you believe how much I'm paying your teammates not to play?"

With all the poor play and questionable officiating in the playoffs, it's easy to forget about the bawful nature of the rest of the NBA right now. However, I need a break from the Celtics doing their best to rip out my heart and drive over it with a truck that has snow chains on its tires. So why not take a look back at one of the greatest sources of bawful comedy in recent memory?

It goes without saying that Isiah Thomas was an absolute joke during his time as president of the New York Knicks. He spent money and got nothing in return to show for it. He presided over the worst possession in basketball history. He was involved in a ridiculous sexual harrassment lawsuit. He had "an accidental overdose of a prescription sleeping pill." The list goes on and on.

However, do you truly understand just how spectacularly bawful his leadership was? This story is required reading for anyone who would ever go to this website. (h/t Jonah Keri for the link). The man wasted so much money, I'm willing to believe he was trying to recreate the movie Brewster's Millions. Let's break it down:

Isiah Thomas' fiscal irresponsibility became so extreme during his time as Knicks president from 2003-08 that he paid $120 million for a total of 82 games played. [The seven players responsible for that sum] averaged 10.6 points per game over the combined 82-game span.
Well, when you put it in those terms, it almost seems like an investment (even if a horrible Enron-ish one). His players actually scored some points! However...
Isiah Thomas effectively lit $50.6 million on fire by paying Jerome Williams, Maurice Taylor, Dan Dickau and Stephon Marbury for seasons in which they did not play for the Knicks.
Devastating. (And that list doesn't even include Jerome freaking James!)

Perhaps the worst part of the entire situation lies in the fact that Zeke did not actually initiate any of these contracts. No, some other sucker general manager in the Association decided it was a good idea to, for example, give Jerome Williams a salary cap crippling seven year, $41 million contract. (And you wonder how we got into financial crisis. The subprime mortage stuff is all just a front! NBA front offices did it!!) However, Thomas was more than willing to graciously give the Bulls a mulligan and instead saddle his own team with this unfathomable debt simply to get one Jamal Crawford. Yes, they eventually waived Williams, but the Knicks were still on the hook for $21 million over three years (Hey, it's only half of the entire contract! A bargain!)

And I haven't even brought up Eddy Curry, or drafting Renaldo Balkman one spot ahead of Rajon Rondo, or trading away countless other draft picks...

(Speaking of Balkman-over-Rondo, here's a fantastic line from Pat Forde's article I linked to in yesterday's BAD post:
By that point, Ainge wasn't capable of exhaling. He had arranged for his old team, the Phoenix Suns, to draft Rondo if Rondo was still there when the Suns were to pick at No. 21. He and the Celtics were sure that the Knicks' boss, Isiah Thomas, would ruin everything and draft Rondo at No. 20. But Thomas, himself a point guard, elected to go with Renaldo Balkman at No. 20.
This should surprise none of you.)

Are we cherry-picking some of the worst things possible and ignoring any good things Zeke did during his tenure? (Not that this is a hard thing to do... Zing!) Sure. But facts are facts, regardless of the circumstances. Isiah Thomas, we miss you and your reign of terror and failure at the New York Knicks, but at least your legacy will live on forever. Or at least until Donnie Walsh gets done cleaning up your mess and getting rid of the last of your horrific contracts.

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