After the Sacramento Kings signed Darren Collison to a three-year, $15 million deal on the second day of free agency, then-restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas told Sactown Royalty’s Blake Ellington at his youth basketball camp this week, “I knew I wasn’t coming back.” An ensuing sign-and-trade sent him to Phoenix, and he’s since said he felt disrespected by the Kings. Now, he’s ready to “kill Sacramento” even while thanking their fans and his former coach for supporting him during his time in Sacramento.
When Thomas was asked to name his favorite memory as a King, he said the whole experience was a positive, but he also reiterated his desire to demolish the Kings the first time they match up against his Suns squad (emphasis ours):
Do you have a favorite memory on the floor as a King?
I don’t think it’s just a specific game, just the whole experience. It was different from I think anybody else’s because three different coaches in three years, front office changing, the arena situation, us maybe moving to Seattle, all of that plays a part in the whole experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I tell everybody I love Sacramento, I always will love Sacramento, but when we play them I’m going to kill Sacramento.
So what is your prediction on your stat line in that first game against the Kings?
I don’t got no prediction, I’m just going to play very hard man. I’m going to leave it all out on the floor like I always do, but that definitely will be a game that I mark on my calendar.
Dime’s spoken to Zeke on more than one occasion over the years, and he’s always struck us as one of the hardest working, yet humble guys in the game today. His escalating efficiency and breakout performance last year after they traded away yet another point guard he outplayed, Greivis Vasquez, speaks to that first characteristic, but it’s the way he treats people that makes him one of the most gracious guys in the Association.
While Isaiah feels slighted by the team that originally drafted him with the last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, he clarified his earlier remarks about being disrespected by the Kings organization. In particular, he thanked last year’s coach, Mike Malone, who he says it the best one he’s worked with in his three seasons in Sacramento, all of which featured a change in at coach each summer:
“I respect the Sacramento Kings, I got the upmost respect for them, they’re the ones that gave me a chance before anybody did so I would never put down the Sacramento Kings front office, or anybody in that organization because they welcomed me with open arms. So when I say I felt disrespected, I just felt like the way I played the game of basketball wasn’t appreciated. So they always say you don’t know what you got until it’s gone, and I feel like that’s going to happen.
“I mean Mike Malone and his coaching staff is the best coaching staff I’ve had. No disrespect to all of the other coaches that coached me, but they just knew their stuff and I tell people all the time, I hope people don’t blame 28 wins on the coaching staff because they did their part. We just as players didn’t do our part every night and that’s what as players you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror every day say, ‘am I doing what I can to help this team?’ And I don’t think we did that every night.”
There aren’t many players who can make it apparent they’re gunning to dominate their old team, but in the same breath can thank that team, their coaches and the fans for the support he enjoyed while playing in town. That’s why Isaiah Thomas remains one of our favorite players today.
What do you think?
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