Hall Of Famer Isiah Thomas believes he could have stopped one of the darkest days in the NBA from happening.
Thomas appeared this week on the broadcast of an Indiana Pacers’ Summer League game. Thomas, the former head coach of the Pacers, touched on several topics, including the team’s brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004.
“I was the coach that [Rick] Carlisle replaced,” said Thomas, per Nat Newell of the Indianapolis Star. “Had I not got fired, I believe I would have won a championship with that team. I don’t believe there would’ve been a ‘Malice at the Palace,’ because I don’t believe the Pistons fans would’ve acted that way with me coaching the team.”
Thomas coached the Pacers from 2000 to 2003. He is also one of the greatest Detroit Pistons, having led them to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. Thomas’ bold claim seems to throw shade towards Rick Carlisle.
In three years of coaching the Pacers, Thomas had a 131-115 record and went 5-10 in the playoffs. The numbers were much better with Carlisle as he had a record of 181-147 in the regular season and 18-17 in the playoffs.
While Thomas is entitled to have his opinion, the bad blood between the Pacers and Pistons was brewing for some time back then. It’s also hard to imagine Thomas on the sidelines actually stopping fans from throwing objects at Ron Artest, either.