Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Isiah Thomas fired as coach of Pacers
TSM Forums > Pop Culture > Sports
bob_barron
Isiah Thomas Out As Pacers Coach
27 minutes ago Add Sports - AP to My Yahoo!


By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS - Isiah Thomas (news - web sites) was fired Wednesday as coach of the Indiana Pacers (news), a surprise move by new boss Larry Bird that came only two months before the start of the season.

Thomas, an NBA Hall of Famer, led a young Pacers team into the playoffs in all three of his seasons, but they were knocked out in the first round each year.


"After looking at film, seeing how things were and evaluating the basketball operations, I detected the team's chemistry wasn't what it should be," Bird said. "Donnie and I decided that a change was necessary and a fresh start was important."


Donnie Walsh, the team's CEO, and Bird, the president of basketball operations, did not immediately pick a successor or set a timetable for choosing a new coach.


"We have decided to go in a different direction," Walsh said in a statement. "When I hired Isiah, I thought he was the right man for the job and at the time and he was."


The team said it would honor the final year of Thomas' contract. An official announcement was expected at a news conference later in the day.


Thomas was with the U.S. men's basketball team at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico earlier this week. He checked out of his hotel Tuesday and could not immediately be reached for comment.


The Pacers were 131-115 in the regular season under Thomas.


Bird and Thomas were contentious rivals from their days of leading the Boston Celtics (news) and Detroit Pistons (news) to NBA titles in the 1980s.


When he was hired July 11, Bird walked off the podium at a news conference and shook hands with Thomas — but neither smiled.


Bird led the Pacers to the 2000 NBA Finals (news - web sites) and the best three-year record in their NBA history during his time as coach. Thomas succeeded him as coach.


Indiana had the best record in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break this past season, making Thomas the All-Star coach, but went 14-19 the rest of the season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Boston.


Walsh at the time gave no indication Thomas wouldn't return, although he said the second-half swoon was troubling.


Pacers players had continued to voice support for Thomas. Jermaine O'Neal (news), then a free agent, said before he re-signed with the team last month that he would not play for anybody but Thomas with the Pacers.


The biggest criticism of Thomas was his inconsistent rotations. While most players preferred a set role, Thomas made his decisions on his own feelings for a particular game and team matchups.
the pinjockey
Hopefully tomorrow they announce Rick Carlisle taking over. No need to drag it out. They should have just done it two months ago when Bird first took over.
Choken One
Shocker Indeed.

Welcome Rick Carlise.
Ripper
But now you have one pissed off franchise player on your hands.
Choken One
Artest or O Neal?
Smell the ratings!!!
suprise my ass.

And O'Neal wont be pissed off once he realizes that he actually has a good coach now.
Polish_Rifle
How long until Dumars gives Zeke a job?
kkktookmybabyaway
Well that's what Thomas gets for saying those mean things about Bird all those years back...
Vern Gagne
Welcome to ESPN Zeke.
notJames
God, please keep Thomas away from a microphone. I remember when he used to do colour for NBA games on NBC and he was terrible. More than just terrible. He was Bill Walton-terrible. Maybe even Magic Johnson-terrible.
CanadianChris
QUOTE(Ripper @ Aug 27 2003, 04:38 PM)
But now you have one pissed off franchise player on your hands.

Indeed...

QUOTE
Thursday, August 28, 2003

Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Jermaine O'Neal would not have re-signed with the Indiana Pacers if he had known they were going to fire Isiah Thomas.

"I don't know who I would have signed with, but I would not have signed back there. Bottom line," O'Neal said early Thursday at the Tournament of the Americas, where he is competing for the United States in qualifying for the 2004 Olympics.

Visibly angered and upset by the move to fire Indiana's coach, O'Neal said he'll address the situation with the Pacers' front office next week. He would not answer when asked if he would demand a trade.

"Am I disappointed? Hell, yeah. I'm extremely disappointed for multiple reasons," O'Neal said. "I was told he would be here before I re-signed."

"If your boss told you your ace is going to be there for you if you come back, and once you come back not even a month later he's not there, that hurts. That hurts a lot. He was more than a coach to me. He was like a father."

O'Neal joined the Pacers three years ago after Larry Bird resigned and was replaced by Thomas. Indiana made the playoffs for three straight years but was eliminated in the first round each time.

Bird, who returned to the Pacers last month as their president of basketball operations, fired Thomas on Wednesday and said the team plans to hire Rick Carlisle as its new coach.

O'Neal got the news in a phone call from Thomas.

"It was extremely strange. I was taking a nap and got the phone call and was like, let me sit up for a second, you're kidding me," O'Neal said. "I was extremely excited about coming back into the situation. We have a crew that's been together for a while and is really ready to focus in on trying to get to the NBA Finals. I don't know exactly where my organization is trying to go. I'm kind of dumbfounded right now."

O'Neal said he telephoned Bird and team president Donnie Walsh asking for an explanation, giving no details except to say it was a brief discussion.

He said it was Walsh who assured him during contract negotiations that Thomas would return. O'Neal signed a seven-year, $126 million deal.

"To me, it's mind-blowing that we would do this, and do it 4-5 weeks before the season," O'Neal said. "I'm more hurt than anything."

O'Neal had spoken with Thomas earlier this week in Puerto Rico, where Thomas was attending the Tournament of the Americas.

Thomas checked out of his hotel unexpectedly Tuesday after being summoned back to Indianapolis.

"He didn't really sound upset. I think he's more hurt than anything. He's been trying to scrap up new plays, new ways to get his players motivated," O'Neal said.

O'Neal spoke on the phone with teammates Al Harrington, Jonathan Bender and Jamison Brewer after learning of the firing.

"Everybody's just extremely surprised. We were geared up to go at this real strong. Now we've got to retool, look at a new system," O'Neal said. "I mean, I don't know if we're really trying to win the championship this year."

Bird said he didn't feel comfortable with the Pacers' direction after a second-half swoon that knocked them out of first place in the Eastern Conference. Bird also said there were other problems with Thomas, including a lack of communication this summer.

O'Neal defended Thomas, saying the public never knew that he occasionally slept in his office at Conseco Fieldhouse after staying late to draw up game plans.

"The slump at the end of the season, we were still 16 games over .500. What else do you want?'' O'Neal said. "I thought in this league you're determined on what you do, wins and losses. He's 16 games better than he was the year before, and he's taking one of the youngest teams in the league and making them contenders and giving us confidence to say that we feel we can come out of the East and get to the finals.

"That was our goal, but all of a sudden now we're not really trying to get to the finals. We're trying to get guys together and compete. I didn't come back to Indiana just to compete. I want to win the finals."

O'Neal had a poor game for the U.S. team Wednesday night in a 96-69 victory over Mexico, fouling out in just 12 minutes after scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

"I'm continuing to figure it out every single year: Life is a challenge, and the ones that succeed in life are the tough-minded ones that are not willing to accept failure,'' O'Neal said. "And no matter what, at the end of the day whether it's with the Pacers or somewhere else, I'm going to continue to succeed."


That's not good.
Ripper
And you have to see why he is upset. If the his selling point on staying in Indy was Thomas, and they TOLD him that he would be there, that is pretty foul from his point of view.

Honestly, I think the team would be better with a better coach, but now you have pissed off your best player, and thats definately not a good thing.
The Grand Pubah of 1620
Well that sucks. Thomas was a good coach.
Polish_Rifle
QUOTE(notJames @ Aug 28 2003, 10:01 AM)
God, please keep Thomas away from a microphone. I remember when he used to do colour for NBA games on NBC and he was terrible. More than just terrible. He was Bill Walton-terrible. Maybe even Magic Johnson-terrible.

Nobody was Isiah Thomas bad. His failed catchphrase as an annoncer was when he was trying to explain to Bob Costas what it means to "Gangster a basket." laugh.gif What a dumbass. "Bob, Shawn Kemp just gangstered that basket. That's what we call it in the streets when a man is determined to make a shot. (*Insert Zeke chuckle and Costas ignoring him and moving on*)

The guy sucks dick as a coach, he's not Alvin Gentry bad but he’s no Rick Carlisle, who took a group of rag tag journeymen and made them 50 game winners. I think it's a great BUSINESS move by Larry Legend and the Pacers. They get to keep their franchise player and also remove an underachieving coach and replace him with one of the brightest young coaches in the league.
Shanghai Kid
Isiah was a bad coach, I mean they clearly should of beaten Boston in the first round this year.

Still, if JO does something extreme like demand a trade, than they go from playoffs to lottery all because Bird made a buisness mistake. He should of fired Isiah as soon as he came in, that way Isiah could of at least gotten another coaching job. Now it all makes Bird look bad, and it especially looks like Bird is only doing this because he doesn't like Isiah.
Polish_Rifle
no it doesn't. If he fired Zeke immediately, then it would have shown that he has a grudge for him. However, he carefully analyzed the situation for 7 weeks while constructing his team. In the end, he had a bad feeling about Zeke and his 3 year flop as a coach, and went ahead to fire him because there was a more qualified candidate on the wings.
Smell the ratings!!!
ONeal you dumbass. "I don't know if we're trying to win a championship this year". Well, your new coach is better than the last one, so yeah, you probably are trying to win a championship this year.

Too bad the Pacers resigned the wrong Miller or they'd be right there with the Pistons and Nets.
Lethargic
Being a major Pacers fan, if O'Neal really has a problem with this, screw him. Trade him. Good riddance. If he's really this stupid, bye. Hell, trade him for Kwame Brown and watch him improve with the Pacers just like O'Neal did or give his spot to Harrington and watch him blossom into a star. O'Neal didn't get a shot in hell of playing until he came to the Pacers. Donnie Walsh brought him to the Pacers, not Thomas. Walsh is the one that gave him his shot to become as good as he has become. How about loyalty to the team instead of loyalty to the half ass coach that kept them from doing anything in the playoffs for three years. This is part of the business. Every coach gets fired eventually unless you're friggin Red Auerbach. Get over it.

This might be the two codeine tablets I took talking, but I doubt it.
Redhawk
I'm also a Pacers fan, and my attitude towards Jermaine O'Neal is this: Shut the Fuck Up. You're getting paid $120 million to play for Indy, which is at least $20 million more than you're worth, so shut up about who your coach is and just play. From the size of your contract it's obvious that Rick Carlisle or ANY coach hired by Bird is not going to dick you on minutes or shots, since you have been annointed as the Franchise Player, so what's the big deal? That's pretty much all that NBA players want from coaches anyway: minutes and shots. Well, JO, you will definitely get your minutes and your shots, and on top of that you're getting a hell of a lot of money. No one's is going to trade for you and that fat contract, so realize that this is a business (and realize that Isaiah would have bolted for Detroit or Chicago within the next few years anyway) and do your job.
Ripper
How can anyone be jumping on Jermaine O'neil when they flat out LIED to him to keep him there?

This isn't a shut the fuck up situation. He said it plainly and clearly, if Zeke wasn't going to be the coach, then he would sign somewhere else. So they sat in his face and LIED knowing full well that they were going to fire Isaiah. O'Neil is now being blamed for being lied to? Bullshit.

Like him or not, Isaih was not a bust as a coach. So some people thought they should have went further. Reggie Miller shot 19 percent from the 3 point line in this years playoffs. Brad Miller gave him about 12 points a game. O'neil played like a god, as usual. No, they SHOULDN''t have beaten the Celtics and it wasn't be cause of coaching. The Celts had 3 players playing well, the Pacers had one.

The year before, the 8th seed Pacers went into double overtime in game 5 of the first round with the eventual Eastern Conference Champs.

He won 16 more games his third year than he did the preceding one, and he did it with a young and volitile team.

Love Carlise all you want, but who is going to be there after Artest explodes the first time when the Austin Croshere blowjob starts again in Indy (honestly, besides Croshere and Carlise, who else has so much love for this guy). Isaiah, through the words of his players, made it like a family and held them together the best he could.

Now I don't think he was the greatest coach. Even a very good one and hiring Carlise is the best overall move. But they should have had the balls to tell Jermaine that they weren't planning on keeping the guy who he said was the key to him resigning. It is a gutless, bad move by Pacer management and I would like to hear anyone say why they think a player should trust them after this. Fuck them.

And Walsh is no more responsible for Jermaine O'neils chance to play than I am. O'neil was brought in to be Austin Crosheres back-up. They moved Davis to move him into the starting line-up. Lets not revise history to make Isaiah the bad guy. He is the one that showed the confidence in Jermaine, and the fact that dedication to a coach is seen as a bad thing now is weird to say the least.
Polish_Rifle
It's time JO grew up and understand that this is the real world and in the real world, business and winning, which leads to making a profit comes first. He will take the businessman's money but he has a hard time accepting the fact that they had to make a BUSINESS decision for the betterment of the entire team. There's no guarantees in life. This isn't Mr. America's iron clad contract where he can never be fired or suspended. Management never promised him that they were going to keep Zeke beyond next season when his contract expires. So what is this, is JO going to walk the earth following Zeke searching for truth and peace ala David Carridine?

Bird said that he did not sense any urgency from Zeke this summer and he made a gut decision. if he would have fired Zeke immediately after JO signed, then you can argue that they were 2-faced and tricked JO. However, it was a full 7 weeks after Bird signed on, and about the same time after JO verbally agreed to resign with the team. That means, Bird was going to go with Zeke, but for some reason or another, he changed his mind and felt that the team will be betteroff with a new coach.
Ripper
QUOTE(Polish_Rifle @ Aug 29 2003, 03:33 PM)
It's time JO grew up and understand that this is the real world and in the real world, business and winning, which leads to making a profit comes first. He will take the businessman's money but he has a hard time accepting the fact that they had to make a BUSINESS decision for the betterment of the entire team. There's no guarantees in life. This isn't Mr. America's iron clad contract where he can never be fired or suspended. Management never promised him that they were going to keep Zeke beyond next season when his contract expires. So what is this, is JO going to walk the earth following Zeke searching for truth and peace ala David Carridine?

Bird said that he did not sense any urgency from Zeke this summer and he made a gut decision. if he would have fired Zeke immediately after JO signed, then you can argue that they were 2-faced and tricked JO. However, it was a full 7 weeks after Bird signed on, and about the same time after JO verbally agreed to resign with the team. That means, Bird was going to go with Zeke, but for some reason or another, he changed his mind and felt that the team will be betteroff with a new coach.

No...they waited so that Isaiah couldn't look for another team and with 5-6 weeks before the season starts, Jermaine wouldn't have time to explore trades.

Don't let people fool you into thinking Larry Bird is a saint. he doesn't like Isaiah Thomas and Thomas does not like him. The only reason that they didn't fire him months ago was for him sign back and get other teams to stop looking after him.

Its not about being young or anything. The selling point to getting him to sign was a lie, plain and simple. They lied to keep him there. They told him one thing and did another. If it were the other way around and a player outright lied to management or to the team, he would get ran into the ground for it. Why is it okay for them to use deception as a contract negotiation.

If Jermaine O'neil found out he had some career ending injury and went in and signed a 120 million dollar contract with the Pacers, knowing he wasn't going to honor their reasoning behind signing him (ie: playing) then he would get called the scum of the earth. They baited him with lies, told him lies to get him to stay there KNOWING full well that if they had been truthful he would have left, and it is purely bad business. If players cannot trust the management of the Pacers, how do they expect to ever sign another free agent. You now have to second guess everything they tell you...how is that good for business. They KNEW they wanted Rick Carlise, then hire him and don't lie to your player to get him to come back.
nl5xsk1
I work in the "real world", and I know - for a fact - that my boss lies to me all the time.

Do I like it? No.
But is it a part of everyday life? Yes.

If you're in a business, sometimes you have to make business decisions that will make your employees unhappy.

It fucking cracks me up that he's getting paid $120 million, and now has a coach with a better winning record - with a less talented team, no less - and he's still bitching and whining.

If he's so unhappy, why doesn't he retire, and take everything that he learned while at college and go deal with the same shit for a lot less money?!?
Polish_Rifle
I understand you point and I know there is bad blood between Bird and Zeke which included the racial potshots that zeke directed at Bird in the 80s. But the fact of the matter is, would JO be any less pissed off if the Pacers stuck with Zeke and honored the last year of his contract and then fired him next year? Would he still feel that he was lied to? The bottom line is that they were underachieving with Zeke and it should not take another year of disappointment before they oust him.

And with the whole trust issue, that is just a crutch. People know that management and their superiors lie to them ALL the time. I know in my experience at work that upper management lies and skews the truth but that is just a fact of life. Owners are there to make $$$ and they will/should do just about anything in order to do so.
Ripper
QUOTE(nl5xsk1 @ Aug 29 2003, 04:39 PM)
I work in the "real world", and I know - for a fact - that my boss lies to me all the time.

Do I like it? No.
But is it a part of everyday life? Yes.

If you're in a business, sometimes you have to make business decisions that will make your employees unhappy.

It fucking cracks me up that he's getting paid $120 million, and now has a coach with a better winning record - with a less talented team, no less - and he's still bitching and whining.

If he's so unhappy, why doesn't he retire, and take everything that he learned while at college and go deal with the same shit for a lot less money?!?

He didn't go to college. tongue.gif

And 122 million blah blah blah.

They will recoup that in no time not to mention the money they were making off the yang on him when he was making that much. Teams make money from their players when they are used in others ad campains...Nike had to pay them for those commercials. The money is a non issue because he makes it back for them 2 fold.

You can't liken this to the "real" world. To have the same situation...it would be if you had 2 job offers. Both were for a managerial. Company A tells you that if you do work for them and turn down the other job, you will get the Vice Presidency job.

So you take the job and they don't give you that position. Is that the REAL world? The money, he could've gotten that other places. His entire reason for resigning with the team was a lie and he has every right to be upset about it. They didn't lie about a tiny thing. THey lied about the entire reason that the contract was signed. They decieved the man and all of you are acting like he should go "Well, the sat me down and lied to me...guess I should bend over and take it since they are paying me 125 million...despite they will make about 3-500 million off me during the duration of this contract..." Whatever.

And I'm sorry, but Rick Carlise had the league leading rebounder, shotblocker, sixth man of the year, Chauncy Billups putting up 19 a game and rip Hamilton putting up 20+ a game. How in the blue hell is that NOT a talented team. The Pacers have a iffy point guard, a bad year from Reggie, a non scoring hot head at SF, Jermaine Oneil and a spotty center... Harrington was worthless this year, Croshere continues to be Croshere, Ron FUCKING Mercer...where is this great team that Isaiah was suppose to lead to the finals?
Redhawk
Jermaine O'Neal knew that Bird didn't like Isiah. Everyone in the NBA knows that. If anything, why didn't he take that into consideration when he signed for seven years? Even if Bird did keep Thomas around for this year, did JO really think Zeke would be coaching Indy for 7 more years, especially when jobs in Chicago (Zeke's hometown) and Detroit would very likely be opening up in the future? Plus, what are the Pacers supposed to do? "Oh, we'll just let our best player walk away because we know we're not keeping this coach." Fuck that. You do what you gotta do to get the best players. JO should just cash the check, thank the Lord he's making the max, and play for whoever the hell they put on the bench.
Ripper
QUOTE(Redhawk @ Aug 29 2003, 05:46 PM)
Jermaine O'Neal knew that Bird didn't like Isiah. Everyone in the NBA knows that. If anything, why didn't he take that into consideration when he signed for seven years? Even if Bird did keep Thomas around for this year, did JO really think Zeke would be coaching Indy for 7 more years, especially when jobs in Chicago (Zeke's hometown) and Detroit would very likely be opening up in the future? Plus, what are the Pacers supposed to do? "Oh, we'll just let our best player walk away because we know we're not keeping this coach." Fuck that. You do what you gotta do to get the best players. JO should just cash the check, thank the Lord he's making the max, and play for whoever the hell they put on the bench.

I understand the Pacers reasoning for doing it. I can't lie, I'd have probably done the same thing. But you HAVE to understand why a man would be mad that he was lied to. In his word, the GUARENTEED that Isaiah would be there next season. As a man, fuck basketball, fuck all of that, but as a man, if you were given a guarentee on something that altered a life changing decision, you wouldn't be slightly upset about it.

I just don't get the "Jermaine should grow up" shit when if the shoe was on the other foot, you'd be pissed too.
The Grand Pubah of 1620
I really can't understand the all the hate for Thomas. He was only ther like 3 years, right? And two of those he took the team to the playoffs.

Bird doesn't like him, so he fired him. It's as simple as that.
Redhawk
If the shoe was on the other foot, I wouldn't be so attached to any coach. Sure, Jermaine says Isiah is a father figure to him, and that's undertstandable. But it's not like Isiah is being exiled to Botswana. Both of 'em got 2-way pagers and cell phones and laptops and shit. I can still remain close to my father even though he doesn't travel around with me and he isn't my boss. JO and Zeke can do the same thing.
Polish_Rifle
Maybe their relationship ran deeper than that. After all, I grew up watching Zeke and Mark Aguirre having some questionable interaction with one another. BTW, does this mean Carlisle will bring in his own assistants and Aguirre will also be out of a job?
Lethargic
QUOTE(Ripper @ Aug 29 2003, 11:44 AM)
And I'm sorry, but Rick Carlise had the league leading rebounder, shotblocker, sixth man of the year, Chauncy Billups putting up 19 a game and rip Hamilton putting up 20+ a game. How in the blue hell is that NOT a talented team. The Pacers have a iffy point guard, a bad year from Reggie, a non scoring hot head at SF, Jermaine Oneil and a spotty center... Harrington was worthless this year, Croshere continues to be Croshere, Ron FUCKING Mercer...where is this great team that Isaiah was suppose to lead to the finals?

This all just proves how much of a better coach Carlisle is. Ben Wallace didn't become the monster that he is until Carlisle came in and turned him into it. Chauncey Billups was a mediocre journeyman until Carlisle turned him into a respectable contributor. Corliss Williamson was looking to be a bust in the league until Carlisle turned him into the sixth man of the year. Hamilton was stuck in a rut with the Wizards until Carlisle allowed him to turn into a scoring machine.

And all those problems you talk about on the Pacers are Thomas' fault. Thomas is the one that has stifled Tinsley's development by completely breaking his confidence. Who took the ball out of Reggie's hands. Who let Artest run wild and destroy everything that moved including the team's chemistry. Who has retarded the growth of Harrington and Bender by not giving them consistent minutes to develop. Who has made Croshere worthless by putting him at the end of the bench for no reason at all. Who never used Mercer hardly enough when they had him.

Honestly, every single thing you said that's good about the Pistons happened BECAUSE of Carlisle and every single thing you said bad about the Pacers happened BECAUSE of Thomas. There's no doubt in my mind that if they had just kept Carlisle three years ago, these two team's fortunes would be totally reversed. Pacers would be the team getting the best record and the Pistons would still be mediocre.

Hey, I understand why Jermaine is upset. Because he's the ONLY PLAYER ON THE TEAM that Thomas did anything for. He didn't seem to give any respect to any other player on that team. It's like he just picked Jermaine to be his boy and ran with him. He babied him and coddled him while the rest of team just scratched their heads at their lack of minutes due to Thomas' poor player management and inconsistent rotations.

As far as all this lying, nobody here on either side knows who lied to who. You have NO IDEA if they knew they were going to fire Thomas when they re-signed O'Neal. That's nothing but speculation. They could've known, they might not have known. Either way it doesn't matter. This is the best possible move they could've made. It SHOULD have happened three years ago but it didn't. Better late than never. Besides, in a few weeks O'Neal will be over this. He's just spouting off right now with knee jerk reactions. Give him some time and he'll most likely come to his senses.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2014 Invision Power Services, Inc.