Isiah: Take off the Mask and Face Your Pain

A smile is just a frown turned upside down, my friend ...

A smile is just a frown turned upside down, my friend ...

“Isiah Thomas spoke with members of the New York Knicks’ organization and is O.K.”

O.K.? You’re kidding me, right? In whose book does what transpired in Isiah Thomas’ suburban mansion over the last48 hours leave anyone O.K.?

Let’s all taste some reality here:Isiah Thomas is not O.K. Not by any stretch, measurement or account.

No, Thomas is in pain. And it’s time he and everyone around him admits it.

As you know, former Knick president and head coach was rushed to a hospital early Friday morning having been found unconscious after taking ten sleeping pills. Sure, he survived and was eventually sent home. But O.K.? Please.

Then it got worst. Thomas later tried to spin it all onto his 17-year-old daughter. He alleged it was she not him who had ingested the pills. That assertion prompted authorities – who had rightfully not confirmed the identity of the victim, only saying that it was a 46-year-old male (Thomas is 47) – to snap back. They called him, quite simply, a liar. {YSP:MORE}

“I understand that this person claims it was his daughter; he is lying,” said David Hall, police chief in Harrison, N.Y., where Thomas resides. “It was definitely not his daughter, it was a male. We know the difference between a 47-year-old black male and a young black female.”

I’ve known Isiah since I was an NBA beat reporter during his Pistons hey days in the 1980s and early 90s. I am a Knick season-ticket holder (another tale for another blog post) and watched him and interacted with him since he arrived in New York five years ago as President of Basketball Operations.

He was supposed to inspire and revive the franchise but instead dragged them through the worst period in franchise history. Last season, the team’s worst ever, never emerged from the shadows of what transpired during the prior offseason – the ugly sexual harassment trail against Thomas and the Knick in which the team was ultimately ordered to pay $11.6 million to the accuser, one of the largest sexual harassment judgements ever.

We’ve all known Thomas’ baby-faced smile since he burst onto the national scene as a precocious freshman at Indiana. A year later he led the Hoosiers to the national title and dribbled right into a Hall of Fame NBA career. But success off the court has been fleeting. And in particular during his days in New York, that baby-faced seemed to be hiding something.

Author Terrie Williams, who battled depression and has written a best-selling book about the experience, calls it a mask – the one we all wear every day as we tell people we’re “fine,”when, in truth, we’re far from it. “Isiah has been through a very diffiult, tumultuous and public chapter in his life’s journey,” Williams told me today. “He’s a fragile human being, as are we all – vulnerable to pain, suffering and holding in stresses. We haven’t walked in his shoes and cannot judge him. What I know is that time, the power of prayer, a good therapist and facing our wounds heals all things.”

Until Thomas spins that baby-smile into a mirror and faces what he sees, he will not be O.K.

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One thought on “Isiah: Take off the Mask and Face Your Pain

  1. Lawrence says:

    Beginning with the spelling of his name, Isiah is one strange dude.

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