You probably know that Isiah Thomas has been hired as the head basketball coach at Florida International, a Sun Belt school that has made the NCAA Tournament just once and hasn’t had a winning season since 2000. Well, today Thomas was introduced officially as coach, and while he made a nice gesture by pledging to donate his salary back to the school (although he’s still got $12 million coming to him from the Knicks), any goodwill he garnered during the day was derailed by a bizarre interview on SportsCenter earlier this afternoon.
Chris McKendry was charged with interviewing Thomas, and she wasn’t interested in skirting any issues. She asked Isiah directly about his sexual harassment allegations, and then grilled him about his rumored suicide attempt a few months ago at his home in New York. Isiah’s answers were awkward to say the least, and honestly kind of strange and disturbing. He had several opportunities to deny attempting suicide (McKendry outright asked him), but he never did.
Video of the interview after the jump.
(Thanks to AWFUL ANNOUNCING for pointing us the video)
Wow. I know that FIU is going for publicity and name recognition here, but would you want to send your kid to play for this guy right now? He gave a meandering non-answer about the harrassment issue, then basically admitted that he tried to kill himself. All the while, it was made abundantly clear that Isiah’s really not OK. An AWFUL ANNOUNCING commenter says it better than I can:
If I was an FIU fan, I would be jacked that my program finally gave me what I wanted…a coach that tried to kill himself less than a year ago.
It’s this exchange at the end of the interview that was the strangest in the series of awkward moments:
McKendry: You would confirm that it was not a suicide attempt? You would go on the record with that?
Thomas: (long pause) Uhh…I like living. I want to live, and, um (pause) I don’t know what else to tell you.
Then, Andy Katz, who was apparently oblivious to the gravity of what was being discussed, immediately started in on a basketball-related question while Isiah looked at someone off-camera and laughed uncomfortably.
But just look Isiah’s facial expressions as he talks. This is a guy who has problems. He spoke at length about being the “suicide attempt,” even talking about taking sleeping pills and going to the hospital. But, shortly after the incident, he denied ever going to the hospital and says that only his daughter had gone. We’ll probably never know what exactly happened that night. And while there are a few more answers in this latest statement, I’m not sure it’s the answers we wanted to hear.