Isiah Lord Thomas III is a retired professional basketball player who played with the Detroit Pistons from 1981 to 1994. He was born on April 30, 1961 in Chicago, Illinois and was the youngest of nine siblings. He attended a private school called St. Joseph High School in Illinois, which took him 1.5 hours daily to commute to. He led his high school team to the State Finals and was then recruited by Indiana University to play for their team the Indiana Hoosiers under coach Bob Knight. Many people tried to discourage Isiah from accepting this offer, including his older brother and anonymous letters sent to his home telling him that Knight was a harsh disciplinarian and often mistreated his players. However, he disregarded all this and accepted the Hoosiers’ offer.
In the beginning, Isiah Thomas did find it hard to adjust to Knight’s disciplinarian coaching methods and often got screamed at for not obeying orders. However, his sheer talent and dedication won Knight over, whose manner then softened. Fans loved him as well and nicknamed him “Mr. Wonderful”. Because of his relatively short height for a basketball player, Knight nicknamed him “Pee Wee”. During the 1980-81 season, he was made the captain of the team and led them to win two conference titles and the 1981 NCAA tournament. He also won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.
The same year, he decided to turn pro and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons NBA team in the 1981 season with a 4 year $1.6 million contract. He led his team to the 1985 conference semi finals where the Pistons lost to the Boston Celtics. In 1987, they reached the Eastern Conference finals where they lost in a very close match, again to the Celtics. In 1988, the team reached the Conference Finals, this time facing the Los Angeles Lakers led by Magic Johnson (a close friend of Isiah’s), James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Pistons lost the contest in a close game but came back to win the title for the next two consecutive years. Isiah was voted NBA Finals Most Valuable