I’m pleased to report that though UNC’s fans rolled over for Isiah Thomas in his coaching debut for FIU at Chapel Hill, Howard Beck of the NEW YORK TIMES notes that Monmouth University students did no such thing last night.
(Isiah: Vicious, off-color taunts were in “good fun”?!)
There were chants about Thomas’s sleeping-pill overdose last year, his 2007 sexual harassment trial and his newly exposed rift with Magic Johnson (“Magic hates you!”)
Beck also notes that, “as Thomas left the court, an older fan accosted him and shouted profanities, then was taken away by security.”
Matt Gagne of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports of the fan,
“Through it all, Thomas kept his cool, even as he came off the court following the final buzzer and an adult fan accosted him, repeatedly saying “—- you” nearly a dozen times, according to one eyewitness.
And Gagne with more from the students:
As he walked across the court at the end of halftime, the student body pointed at Thomas in unison and made a one-word chant out of a seven-letter profanity.
In his NYT piece, Beck doesn’t get specific with most of the fan chants, but thanks to the wonderment of Twitter, the reporter did bless us with what was being said about the man who once threw his daughter under the bus to the New York media.
On the abuse from the Monmouth students, Thomas told Gagne of the NYDN, “It’s all in good spirit and good fun, that’s what being a fan is all about. … I thought the students were well in line and in bounds with the chants that they were saying.” But of the fan who was lead out of the building, Thomas said, “I don’t even think he’s a student here, he’s not in college. He got out of line and security put him in line.”
So in other words, cursing Isiah repeatedly and taunting him with embarrassing details of his past life is okay if you’re a student, but not if you aren’t enrolled at the school. Bizarre.
Don’t fret, Beck also reports Monmouth students tapped Knicks’ fans favorite phrase when Thomas was still ensconced @ MSG.
Finally, with Thomas’s team trailing by 17 in the second half, came the most familiar taunt of all: “Fire Isiah.” That phrase filled Madison Square Garden for Thomas’s final two years as the Knicks’ coach and president, a tenure that ended with his dismissal in April 2008. Nineteen months later and 56 miles south of the Garden, his transgressions had not been forgotten.
Beck also notes that one of the starting guards for Thomas’ FIU squad is named “Stephon (Weaver)”.
Isiah’s reax to the NYT after the game was amusingly philosophic: “It’s part of sports and it goes all the way back to the Romans.”
Beck on Twitter responding to Thomas’ comment: “Fill in your own punch line.”
Because of FIU’s Sun Belt schedule, I seriously doubt Thomas’ll take the kind of systematic abuse he took last night the rest of the season. But what made last night so much more delightful is the huge coverage the game got in New York because of the game’s proximity to The City. (Monmouth only 50 miles from The Apple.)
Wonder what Thomas’ daughter thought of it?