Today I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with NBA legend Isiah Thomas who is featured in the upcoming ESPN 30 for 30, ‘Bad Boys’ Thursday, April 17 at 8:00pm EST.
The film, directed by Zak Levitt, will air as a two-hour broadcast (100 minutes without commercials) and includes never-before-seen footage inside the locker room and huddles, and a synopsis of Detroit’s cultural landscape leading up to the 1980s.
Smith: What were your initial thoughts when you were approached about being involved with this Bad Boys 30 for 30?
Thomas: I was excited. I have always been big fan of the series. They have done a good job of telling the sports stories. I was just very excited about it from the start when they approached us.
Smith: What is your best memory of the Bad Boy era?
Thomas: The competitiveness. You have to understand how great those teams were back then. The Lakers, Celtics, and Sixers at the time were all great teams. An under the radar team was the Milwaukee Bucks. People forget how successful they were as a franchise. They would just happen to lose to Philly or Boston in the second round but they won a lot of games. The biggest thing to me was just how good the teams were.
Smith: You are on record saying you regret the 1991 walk off vs the Bulls, but could the NBA today benefit from more rivalries?
Thomas: I’m on record saying we should have handled the moment better. We should have been better than that. Rivalries are a good thing in general and great for sports. We were the only team in that era that had three intense rivals. We had the Bulls, Celtics, and Lakers. I don’t know if thats good or bad thing. (laughs) I’m not sure if don’t know if another team ever had that.
Smith: Which team today comes closest to your style of play?
Thomas: Well, the rules have changed. Still, the team that carries the defensive mindset we had right now is the Chicago Bulls. They really try to defend every single night and make it tough for you to score.
Smith: How is your relationship with Magic Johnson now?
Thomas: It’s not as close as when we were playing. We have a respectful relationship though.
Smith: What are you up to now Isiah?
Thomas: I work for NBATV now and you can catch me there most weekends. I will be featured this weekend previewing the NBA Playoffs.
Smith: Do you have a desire to run a team or coach again?
Thomas: I love the game and basketball is my passion. If the opportunity presented itself I would look at running a team or coaching. Basketball is about getting in the right spot at the right time so it would have to be with the right people at the right time.
Thanks again to Isiah for his time and be sure to check out the Bad Boys 30 for 30 directed by Zak Levitt on Thursday, April 17 at 8:00pm EST on ESPN.