Monday, March 12, 2007
Isiah Gets Extension; Coach of the Year next?
The Ultra-talented Isiah takes a break from GMing and coaching to perform a duet with Janet
James Dolan, the CEO of Madison Square Garden and the calculating shot caller for the Knicks, made the announcement that Isiah Thomas would be rewarded for the enormous improvements this season with a contract extension.
Larry Brown seemingly attempted to burn the Garden to the ground last season by refusing to develop a style of play for his team that effectively utilized the highly paid superstars that Isiah was able to somehow procure in a hugely competitive market for their services. Dolan took a unique approach to challenge Isiah to bring out the best in the high octane, high payroll Knicks.
Some say Brown could not handle playing the second fiddle to a second former Negro Detroit Bad Boy guard for consecutive coaching stints and felt that based on his sharing a race with Dolan, he'd be able to sabotage the season and force Thomas out.
Give Dolan credit for recognizing that not only did he possess GM gold in Isiah, but coaching gold as well. Dolan gave an ultimatum: Improve or get up and get out. The slickest part of the motivation process was that Dolan never explained what constituted significant and measurable progress. A brilliant strategy, because it allowed Dolan to effectively define Isiah's progress after the fact. We know owners and CEOs don't like to admit error or wrong, and this was a brilliant way for Dolan to mitigate the chance of having to do so. Well done, sir!
It was a brilliant manuever. Isiah rallied his team and has developed his young troops at an incredible pace. He has fostered a trust and familial attitude on these Knicks that Larry Brown's bitterness at being outranked by Isiah precluded from developing. Isiah understands how to effectively manage egos and gel playing styles to maximize performance and continuity. This was something that Brown just couldn't do in NY. Again, his desire to unseat Isiah from the GM chair overwhelmed his sense of responsibility to his players.
We are witnessing the renaissance of the Garden and the Knickerbockers, right before our eyes. Dolan's unquestionable business acumen, coupled with Isiah's unparallelled coaching and GM deal making has transformed the Knicks from league laughingstock to playoff bound. The Knicks have already won 6 more games than they won during Larry Brown's entire term as head coach. And, playing in the life and death competition provided by the Eastern Conference, the team is on pace to hold onto the 8th playoff spot.
This is the type of turnaround that lays the groundwork for a dynasty. What Isiah has accomplished should, in most reasonable minds, result in the dual awards of Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year.
You can make arguments for other GM's and Coaches, but no other coach who is also a GM out there has turned his team from a last place joke into the 8th best team; AND done it in the Eastern Conference. No one.
Isiah earned his extension. But he has some more hardware coming his way after the season.