Almost every player would love to be drafted #1 overall. But former NBA champion Isiah Thomas was not like most players. During a recent interview with NBA analyst Shannon Sharpe, he talked about how he tried to rig the draft and tank his stock.
He said, “Mark Aguirre and I were both trying to rig the draft so we could both get to Chicago. They had 4th pick and the 6th pick. We were trying to drop all the way to 4th and 6th. So every interview we did with the teams above us, we just blew the interviews.”
If he had got his move to the Bulls, he could have potentially teamed up with Michael Jordan. Instead of being fierce rivals, they could have been arguably the best backcourt of all-time. Combining Thomas’ elite playmaking with Jordan’s unparalleled scoring would have been a scary sight for the opposition.
Playing alongside Jordan would have easily helped Thomas win over two rings in his career. But this team-up could have denied fans from the intense Bulls-Pistons rivalry, because the Bulls would have been too clear off to have any rivals. But sadly, Thomas did not get his move to his hometown team.
Aguirre was also a prospect from Chicago like him. Both of them wanted to play in their hometown. But the Pistons GM understood what Thomas was trying to do and caught his bluff.
Thomas said, “When I interviewed in Detroit, they had Jack McCloskey and Will Robinson. Every question he asked me, I would answer wrong. I am trying to drop; I am trying to get people to not like me. And I’ll never forget. He looks at me and goes, ‘I know what you’re doing. I just want you to know, it ain’t gonna work. Number two, I’m taking you.'”
So Aguirre ended up being drafted by the Mavericks at #1 and Thomas went to the Pistons at #2 in the 1981 NBA Draft.
Thomas also ended up being a Pistons lifer and played each of his 13 seasons at Detroit. He was an All-Star in every season except his last year and was a big contributor to their success. So one could arguably say he is the greatest Piston of all-time.
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