By Antigoni Zachari / firstname.lastname@example.org
The year is 1992 and two-time NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons Isiah Thomas is left out of the Dream Team that would represent the USA in the Barcelona Summer Olympics. Many urban myths appointed this “exclusion” to Michael Jordan, former leader of Team USA, after the events in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, when Detroit walked off the court without congratulating the Chicago Bulls for winning the title.
Grudge or not, and even though Jordan debunked this legend in 2020’s “The Last Dance” (episode 5), stating that “it wasn’t him”, Thomas had already started cutting his ties from the NBA. In the meantime, his agent, George Andrews, was already exploring other options as Thomas finally reached the end of his NBA run in 1994 with an unfortunate Achilles tendon tear.
Andrews had strong links with European basketball. He was the one who introduced Roy Tarpley to Olympiacos in 1993, while he was representing 4-time NBA All-Star with the Dallas Mavericks Rolando Blackman in his Euro-run with AEK, Olimpia Milano, Limoges, as well as 9-time NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins, who later on lifted the 1996 EuroLeague title with Panathinaikos. Needless to say, the possibility of a Thomas leap to European basketball grew stronger as his NBA career came to an end.
“He [Andrews] was very satisfied with Tarpley’s run with Olympiacos, his salary, this and that…”, explained former Greek Basket League Vice President Vassilis Dimarelos, who was included in the talks between Olympiacos and Thomas’ agent, in a recent interview with Greek CosmoteSport.
In today’s numbers, such a move seems unthinkable, though we should consider the fact that back in the day, the top NBA contracts were still comparable to lucrative European deals. There were talks, though a deal was never reached, as Thomas decided to call it a day, to pursue coaching duties in the turn of the century.