Isiah Is Back—Loudly
Piston players and coaches believe Isiah Thomas's recent verbal explosions have been designed to fire up Detroit for the postseason. They say that although Thomas is not 100%, his right wrist has healed to the point where he is not hurting the team by playing. Perhaps they are correct.
Perhaps not. After a 94-90 home loss to the lowly Cavaliers on April 10, Thomas criticized both his teammates and coaches by saying that "nobody gives a —— around here anymore and that includes the coaches. We've become comfortable with losing." A few days earlier, Thomas had referred to some of his teammates as "stowaways," meaning that they were just along for the ride and were not producing.
As for his injury, Thomas has played reasonably well in the six games since his return following a 10-week layoff. He averaged 16.7 points and 9.8 assists in those games, including an impressive 26-point, 16-assist performance in a 95-91 victory over the Bulls at The Palace of Auburn Hills last Friday.
However, at least twice he has just waved at hard passes thrown to him by teammates, letting them go out-of-bounds. On April 9, Thomas charged up to teammate John Salley and said in no uncertain terms not to throw him such a pass again. No one has ever questioned Thomas's toughness, so the only logical assumption is that he is really hurting. Thomas won't elaborate about the injury, maintaining that his wrist is "O.K."
The Pistons are in a tough situation. They would have preferred that Thomas had sat out longer to rehabilitate his surgically repaired wrist. Yet he needs to play to regain his conditioning, and the Pistons need to play with him to regain their timing on offense.
The Class of '86
The fifth anniversary of the most star-crossed draft class in league history is approaching. "Seems like we were decimated by all kinds of situations," says Cavalier center Brad Daugherty, the first pick in '86. "Doesn't seem to make much sense."
No, it doesn't. The tone was set when forward Len Bias died of cocaine intoxication less than 48 hours after the Celtics had made him the No. 2 selection. Frontcourtman Chris Washburn, whom the Warriors drafted with the third pick, played only 72 NBA games in two seasons before he, too, was brought down by drugs. Washburn attempted a comeback this season with the Tulsa Fast Breakers of the CBA, but last month the team put him on the suspended reserve list to work on his basketball skills. No one is sure if he will ever play again, and most NBA teams have lost interest in him.
The sixth pick in '86, center William Bedford of Detroit, is a two-time offender under the NBA's drug policy and is tested periodically for drugs by the Pistons. Bedford has been an inconsistent reserve, and he's unpopular with his teammates. Maverick forward Roy Tarpley, chosen after Bedford, is a certified NBA talent but has had repeated bouts with both drugs and alcohol. The latest incident occurred three weeks ago when he was arrested on DWI charges, prompting the Mavs to suspend him indefinitely without pay. (Tarpley denies he was intoxicated.) He has not played since suffering a knee injury in the fifth game of this season.