The Allen Iverson deal that the Detroit Pistons pulled off made me think about the contrasts between two backcourt teammates who had totally different post-playing careers.
First, I think the trade is brilliant. It keeps the Pistons competitive this year while it also puts them in a strong position for the free agent market next season — a team with money to spend. Joe Dumars has proven to be a Hall of Fame basketball executive, as well as the Hall of Fame guard he was when he played for the Pistons. He was voted the league’s Executive of the Year for the 2002-03 season and built the team that won the 2004 NBA Championship. His teams have made it to the Eastern Conference finals six straight seasons.
But when he played for the Pistons — as good a player as he was — Dumars was second fiddle to his backcourt teammate, Isiah Thomas. It was Thomas who was the star of that team, Thomas who was the big name.
Not so in the front office.
The contrast between the two of them as basketball executives is stunning. Thomas has been a train wreck, having destroyed an entire league — the old Continental Basketball Association. He was a failure as a head coach in Indiana and as a front office executive in Toronto, and then, as we all know, presided over the destruction of one of the league’s most important franchises, the New York Knicks. Thomas left the Knicks job in disgrace, the target of an embarrassing sexual harrassment suit and a long list of ill-fated personnel moves. And now reportedly he had to be taken to a hospital because of an overdose of sleeping pills.
Isiah may have been the star. But it is Dumars whose NBA legacy is far greater.
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