The experience was a painful one for Thomas. The last came in 1957 when the Pistons moved to the city from Fort Wayne, Ind. His 13.9 assists per game in 1984-85 set an NBA record for the highest single-season average ever, until Stockton bested it with 14.5 in 1989-90. Thomas had a solid first year (17.0 ppg, 7.8 apg, 150 steals), stepping into the point guard position and leading the team in assists and steals. Greg Kelser, the color commentator for Pistons games on Fox Sports Detroit, was a teammate for part of Thomas’ rookie season before being traded to Seattle for Vinnie Johnson. A scheduling conflict in March 1960, when the Ice Capades were at Olympia Stadium, forced the team to play a playoff game against the Minneapolis Lakers at the Grosse Pointe South High School gymnasium in front of 1,938 fans.

© 2020 www.freep.com. "It was a spiritual, out-of-body experience.”. Thomas is sad to see the Palace era end — he once had told his wife that he would want some of his ashes placed there — he looks forward to the Pistons' move to Detroit. They were quiet in the first three years of Daly’s reign, getting no further than the East semis. Isiah Thomas and the Pistons bounced Michael Jordan’s Bulls from the playoffs three times. Isiah Lord Thomas III came into the world in 1961 under the harshest of circumstances. Despite a great effort from the Bulls’ Michael Jordan, Detroit won in six games and advanced to meet the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Game 7 came down to the final minute. The team climbed to third in the Central Division. Press J to jump to the feed.

But with 4:21 left in the quarter, Thomas was writhing in pain and holding his right ankle after landing on Michael Cooper’s foot. Zeke explains who is the number 1 ... Isiah Thomas laughs at Stephen A. for getting called out by ... 6:48. But in the 13 seasons that followed, the Thomas-led Pistons only had four sub-.500 seasons, competed in three NBA finals, won two championships and sold out every game (21,454 fans) for four consecutive seasons (1989-90 through 1992-93). He was very focused.”. Thomas showed his Hall of Fame potential in Game 5 of the opening-round series against the New York Knicks on April 27, 1984. But above all, he was the consummate quarterback, consistently placing near the top of the league in assists. He combined intelligence, court savvy and physical gifts to attain true NBA superstardom. But then, in 1987, Detroit came within one game of reaching the NBA Finals. The 1980-81 Pistons, who finished 21-61, were the second-worst team in the league. “I remember it was Mother’s Day when I made the game winning-shot in a playoff game against the Hawks, and while I’m dancing around holding the ball my mother was walking across the stage at Indiana to accept my degree,” Thomas said. The street-hardened freshman impressed coach Bobby Knight from the outset, averaging 14.6 points and 5.5 assists in his first season. And then there was Isiah Lord Thomas III, the player whose impact turned around the once floundering franchise and laid the foundation for the construction of one of the premier arenas in basketball, especially for its time. It’s the one missing item from his résumé. Like many of his teammates, Thomas was tempestuous, edgy, vocal and not opposed to balling up his fist when he felt the need. The game, which had to be played at Joe Louis Arena because of a tractor pull previously scheduled at the Silverdome, had been dominated by Knicks small forward Bernard King throughout. From the Pistons' inaugural season in 1957 through the 1980-81 campaign — and despite having stars George Yardley, Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, and Bob Lanier — the Pistons had only three winning seasons. Thomas, who stood barely over 6-feet, was in his day the grittiest performer to play the position, a feisty competitor who offered no quarter and expected none in return. After the series, Thomas told HOOP Magazine: “We never quit. With Thomas in top form, Detroit finished 1987-88 at 54-28 and won the Central Division title.

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