Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Isiah Thomas says he believes LeBron James seriously considered joining the Knicks and that the “world” would have been “curious” to see what he could have done in New York.
“I still think the world would’ve been interested to see if he would’ve [helped the Knicks win a title],” Thomas said outside Arthur Ashe Stadium Saturday night after watching Novak Djokovic beat James Blake in the third round of the U.S. Open.
“I still think the curiosity factor and him coming to New York and being a part of the Knicks, I think that…people would’ve just been drawn to watch to see if he could do it.”
Asked if he thinks LeBron seriously considered joining the Knicks, Thomas, who was part of the Knicks’ recruiting team for King James, said, “Yeah, I think so.”
He added: “I think like everybody else we wanted him to come to New York but I think they’ll do well in Miami. They got a great team and I think everybody will be watching to see if they can put it together and win.”
Thomas, who coaches at Florida International, said the excitement is sky-high in Miami about the new-look Heat featuring James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
“The media attention basketball-wise there is off the charts,” he said. “Every news media, every magazine publication, everyone will be coming through Miami to watch them play and to be curious if they can put it together and win.”
Thomas said he doesn’t think that 20 years ago he and Michael Jordan and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson would’ve teamed up to play together on the same team.
“None of us were ever given the opportunity to do that,” he said.
“Magic had great teammates. He didn’t want to join anybody because, you know, he had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Before Michael Jordan, Kareem was considered the best to ever play. He had Kareem and [James] Worthy. Bird had [Kevin] McHale, [Robert] Parrish, [Bill] Walton. And you look at Jordan, he had Hall of Famers. [Scottie] Pippen just went into the Hall of Fame. [Dennis] Rodman will be in the Hall of Fame, should’ve been in the Hall of Fame earlier. They had some good players.”
He added: “The times are different and you just have to adjust to the times.”
As for whether Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony might join the Knicks as a free agent, Thomas said he didn’t know.
“I have no idea,” he said.
Thomas his wife, Lynn, stood outside Arthur Ashe and greeted several fans as well as baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who also attended the matches.
Asked what the best thing anyone said to them all night was, Lynn responded, “We love you, we miss you.”
Thomas, the former Knicks GM and coach, was hired as a Knicks’ consultant last month even though he also serves as the head coach at FIU. The agreement violated NBA bylaws about NBA personnel having contact with players not eligible for the draft.
After Duke and Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, among others, spoke out publicly about the potential for conflicts of interest, Thomas “rescinded” the agreement.
That prompted a statement from Knicks chairman James Dolan in which he said he was “disappointed,” but added: “He will always have strong ties to me and the team. We wish him continued success at FIU.”
“I think the statement spoke for itself,” Thomas said Saturday. “And I’ve always said that I have a lot of great friends in the Knicks’ organization and I do root for the Knicks and I want them to do well.”
Asked if he was disappointed that it didn’t work out, Thomas said: “I think the way that the [NBA] bylaws are written, it was pretty accurate. So you just move on. But you still root. You still want them to do well.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.