Isiah Thomas

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Why Isiah Thomas lied about being 6’1″: “It was controversial to tiny person at No.2”

Isiah Thomas
  • In 1988, Jack McCallum authored an essay forecasting that the center position was dead. 
  • Then Isiah had an honest moment and expressed something many of us understand:
  • Isiah’s last sentence points that clearly.

In 1988, Jack McCallum authored an essay forecasting that the center position was dead. The young guys like Olajuwon and Ewing weren’t playing the same way anymore, and the game altered. One difference McCallum wrote about, and see if this sounds familiar, was “versatile” – athletes that could guard 4 places on the court.

Turns out coaches always sought to have wing-sized players that can cover practically all spots on the field. OK, very big guys are in a problem if they don’t know how to dribble and shoot.

Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas playing basketball source: Twitter

I lied about being 6-1

In an episode of Open Court, Isiah Thomas highlighted his expectation that smaller guards are progressively

being phased out of the league with all the tall players handling the ball so well on the perimeter.

“The other thing I see is getting ready to happen, and Kenny (Smith) this is gonna impact you and me,

the tiny guards, we’re gonna start getting phased out because McHale, Bosh, Grant – these are the sizes of the point guards coming in.”

Then Isiah had an honest moment and expressed something many of us understand:

“Everybody had big point guards, and it was really contentious to choose me at 6’1…you know,

I lied about being 6’1″, everybody got that extra inch.

It was contentious to choose a little guy at no.2 (in the draft) (in the draft).

Then we won and everyone went to the little point guard. I see right now, everybody is sizing up.”

Isiah Thomas, Open Court

There is a pattern that happens, someone tries something new, and then other teams adopt that approach to the game.

Isiah’s last sentence points that clearly.

After the Pistons won with him as a point guard, everyone started picking little guys.

So while the present tendency is the length at all positions,

it only takes one or two tiny guards to invent a new style of play and the pendulum will swing another way.

The only issue is, it may not swing as far back as you would anticipate.

Remember that even in his greatest days as The King of the Fourth, the Celtic’s Isaiah Tomas was such a liability on

defense that he made sense on the floor only while he was the best fourth-quarter scorer in the history of the NBA.

That’s an atomic margin for a mistake from a team-building perspective.

(Dis)honesty is the best policy

Lying about height is not only a basketball thing. It’s above all, an ego thing.

Research on dating apps has found that women tend to lie about their weight and age, while males lie about their height and wealth.

It corresponds well with the images that society portrays on us, and NBA players, believe it or not, also can be vain.

Surprisingly, one of the uncommon players to possibly lie about his height,

making himself shorter is the guy who created bogus Twitter accounts to praise himself and quarrel with random people online.

Guards frequently add an inch or two, while tall players occasionally cut their height.

Both do that because they wish to play a certain position.

For a guard, being tall enough to play both the one and the two is value-added.

For a lot of 7-footers, saying you are 6’10” helps you project yourself as a power forward, and a lot of players didn’t want to play the five (see Kevin Garnet) (see Kevin Garnet).

As KD remarked to Chris Herring from the Wall Street Journal:

“For me, when I’m talking to women, I’m 7 feet,” he stated.

“In basketball circles, I’m 6-9. But truly, I’ve always thought it was cool to claim I’m a 6-9 small forward.

Really, that’s the prototypical size for a small forward.

Anything taller than that, and they’ll start saying, ‘Ah, he’s a power forward.”

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Kevin Durant, WSJ

KD stated it best – for women he is 7 feet, and for coaches and GMs he is 6’9″.

In the age of powerful analytics, we still haven’t found out how to measure someone’s height. Go figure.