The New York Times is offering its archives for free since 1985. That gives anyone a chance to look up any topic and read about it. Without further ado, I present the best quotes of the Isiah Thomas era on a monthly basis. Though many of these quotes were made to reporters from multiple media outlets, credit the New York Times archives as the source:
12/23 ”Everything in New York is big and the best. ‘Here, we’re trying to win and right away.’
12/24 ”One of the things that I’m evaluating and assessing is what will a New York Knick player look like and what values will he possess and how will he play?”
12/28 ”Winning to me is not a good effort. ‘You either win or lose.”
12/30 ”I think there are different ways to motivate people. I’ve always tried to inspire people instead of trying to manipulate them through fear, because if you’re going to have a long-lasting effect it has to be through true inspiration of that individual wanting to succeed as opposed to I’m going to frighten you to succeed.”
1/4 ”He’s got great stuff. ‘His defense stuff is solid, his offensive stuff is exceptional. He’s got a great basketball background. I’m confident if we can put the right things around him from a coaching standpoint, I as a manager can do the right things by him, he can have success here.” – expressing his confidence in Don Chaney
1/5 ”It just made me realize how important that position was to us and how much we needed to go out and acquire a guy like that. ‘You just don’t get a chance to get these superstar players and have them be on your team in this day and age.”- after acquiring Marbury
1/12 ”We’re in the state where I think it would be impossible for me to do both and do them well. ‘We’re trying to get healthy and we got to dig ourselves out of a big hole. And I don’t think I would do this organization justice by trying to do both jobs.” – on if he could coach and be in the front office
1/13 ”You definitely don’t like to see anyone humiliated in such a public forum. It’s a tough time for him as a man.” – on the David Letterman show discussing the status of Don Chaney
1/14 ”We came to the conclusion late this morning. You never thought you would be able to get a Hall of Fame coach to be able to coach a team. Having the opportunity to have the winningest coach in basketball, we pride ourselves on being the best and having the opportunity to select the best. I just think he’s a perfect fit. And I think he’s the perfect fit for Stephon.” – on hiring Lenny Wilkens
1/19 ”He’s a very special player, a very gifted player,” ”And I think, ideally, we would still like to get more athletic and go out and acquire the best talent and get the best players for him to play with. I would like for us to become a much more athletic team, a quicker team.” – more on Marbury
2/15 ”The only reason we made the trade was because we got both players. When you add Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed to our team, it makes us a much more athletic team. I think we’ve become a better defensive team, a better rebounding team.” – on acquiring Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed.
2/15 ”I wanted to put together a team that was exciting for the fans to come and watch, a team that had some character and some guts, but also a team that you can grab a box of popcorn and grab a soda and enjoy the game. ”You want players and you want a team that people want to see. I think this is a team that when everyone is healthy and playing well, it can be an exciting team that people will want to see and talk about.”
3/17 ”Lenny and I are on the same page. ‘We talk daily, nightly, hourly. We work well together. I love my team. I love our coach. I love our players. But I want more.” – after he yelled at the Knicks for sucking in an overtime win over Washington
4/23 ”This is a starting point for us; we will learn from this experience. You’ve got to be in the playoffs and have some humiliating moments to learn to win.” – following n 81-78 loss to the Nets in Game Three
4/27 ”But I didn’t think it was a good message to send to our fans to say: ‘You know, we haven’t made the playoffs in two years. We’re going to get rid of all the salary and go young, and, you know, by the way, the next three years we aren’t going to make the playoffs because we’re going to be young and rebuilding.”’ – after the Knicks were swept in the playoffs by the Nets.
10/1 “After watching the Yankees pour Champagne last night in their locker room, I got really fired up and inspired. “I look at our team, and that’s what we aspire to be. And I’m pretty excited about this year and the possibilities and the chances that we have. I like all the young guys that we have, love the veterans that are coming back. The coaches are enthused. We’ve got a chance to have a really good year, and I’m excited about it.”
10/7 – If he conforms to the Knick ways and he acts accordingly, yeah. Thus far, he’s conformed. Everything’s O.K. if you do what we’re asking you to do. But when you try to do things the way you want to do them, there are issues with that.” – on Shandon Anderson
11/9 – “I have no interest in coaching,. I don’t think I’ll ever coach the New York Knicks.”
11/9 – “As long as I’m the president of basketball operations here in New York, I don’t see myself coaching the New York Knicks,” he said. “And I wish you would stop writing it or stop saying it, because that’s not going to happen while I’m here.
11/9 – “I think in other cities, you may be able to pull off G.M.-coach, but I don’t think in this city you can do it, simply because the energy and the passion that it takes to do one job, the way we have to travel, the way we have to live, the complexities of this city. I know, myself, I wouldn’t have the energy to be the president and also the coach.”
12/7 “I think he’s in that discussion. I know the thing that the coaches value the most is his work ethic, the way he approaches the game every night and the way he does the dirty work inside the paint. He’s not flashy; he’s effective. He’s just a worker.” – on Nazr Mohammed
12/12 “If you’re not playing for the championship, then you’re not good enough. And my job is to continue to try to make us good enough, so we can compete and try to win the championship one day.”
1/4 – “I thought he was awesome, and I happen to agree with him. “When you look at his numbers across the board and what we do when he’s out on the floor, I think he is the best right now.” – on Marbury declaring himself the NBA’s best point guard
1/21 -”It hurts to watch your team lose by 1 and 2 points and get beat at the buzzer and all that But you know what? It’s part of the process. If you want to make quick, rash decisions, then you should go hire somebody else. But if you want sustained growth, in terms of how we’re building it, right now I’m stubborn enough to stick to my plan.”
1/22 – “It’s tough when you lose someone such as Lenny, “What he’s meant to the game of basketball, what he’s done for our organization, and last year when we got together, I think where he’s brought us to, we’re on solid footing. He laid the foundation, he came in and handled it with class and dignity and grace. He did all the right things to get us into the playoffs last year.”
Gathered by Larry Fleisher of InsideHoops.com from the New York Times archives
2/9 – “Make no mistake, the man in front of you has been through a lot of tough times,” Thomas said of himself. As he added: “Our best days are in front of us and not in the present. We have to be patient enough to get to that day.” – explaining the 19-30 record
2/24 – “We were able to upgrade our talent in getting Malik Rose and Maurice Taylor. There’s also the addition of the two picks. We have two first-round picks this year and two first-round picks next year. We will be able to improve our team with the youth we’ll get in the draft, or we may be able to package some players and do some other things. This gives us creative ability in the draft.” – on the deals for Malik Rose and Maurice Taylor.
2/24 “Malik is a high-energy player, and the fans are going to enjoy watching him play. “In terms of his salary, a guy like Malik who is making $5 or $6 million a year is worthy of that contract. The two or three additional years that he has, I’m very comfortable paying those numbers. Those are not $12, $13 or $14 million numbers.”
4/20 – “I really like what we have. When you’ve lost 30 games by 6 points or less, there’s some hope. So we’re not as far away as our record would indicate.” – the day after the team finished 33-49
4/20 – “The way I feel right now, I’d trade my mother if the right deal came along,” – discussing on how to improve the roster
6/28 – “We like Herb Williams as a coach; he did a fine job when he was here. I’m sorry. He did a fine job of coaching the team. But we want to do the best and do the right thing for the New York Knicks, and we’ll be diligent and patient with our approach.” – Thomas jumping the gun on the coaching job.
6/30 – “I don’t think I’ve ever said this to any of you publicly, but last year was really the first time that I’ve ever been associated with a basketball team that was called ‘soft’ at certain times. Every team that I’ve ever played on has always been a great defensive team, whether it’s been my high school team, college team or pro team, or the team that I coached in Indiana.” – Thomas on the day he introduced Quentin Richardson, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson and David Lee
7/2 – “Any guy that has ‘center’ next to his name, we’re interested in.”- Thomas discussing his search for a free agent center in class that included Stromile Swift and Samuel Dalembert
7/6 – “That is so far from the truth. And I’m ashamed for you guys that you even have to ask me that, because there is absolutely no truth to it at all.” – denying reports that Marbury was available.
7/28 – “Larry has won every place that he’s gone. And make no mistake about it, I think he will work extremely hard to turn this situation around for us.” – introducing Larry Brown as his third coach in nearly two years
11/16 – “I like what I’m seeing, I like what we’ve done. Actually, pretty excited about the way we’re playing. – before the Knicks fell to 2-6 with a loss at the LA Lakers
12/22 – “We were very competitive out on the road, and I don’t know if there’s a fear of playing at home, but we’ve had some embarrassing losses at home. And it seems that our guys are much more competitive and play with a lot more confidence away from home.” – celebrating his second anniversary on the job by saying the bad crowd reactions in double digits losses negatively impact the team.
2/4 – ”I’m not saying this is a move to get to the playoffs or anything like that. Jalen is a person who fits exactly what we need. A very versatile player, he can handle the ball in the backcourt, he can score from the small forward position and he can take some of the scoring load off some of our younger players who have been asked to score at difficult times during the game.” – on acquiring Jalen Rose’s contract from the Raptors.
2/23 – “We feel pretty good about the direction we’re headed,.We’re not happy with the record. However, our future is bright.” – after acquiring Steve Francis
4/20 – “I don’t think that our record is indicative of the type of coach that he is or the type of players that we have,” – after the 23-win season ended
Gathered by Larry Fleisher of http://www.insidehoops.com from the New York Times archives
6/27 – “I’ve been in pressure situations before.All my life has basically been about pressure, about having to get it done. And just because you say it publicly does not make me afraid of it or shy away from it. You got a job to do, go get it done.” – responding to the mandate by Dolan for significant progress
6/28 – “It’s challenging. I don’t think there’s anybody else in the league or in sports probably working under this situation. However, that’s how it is.” – in response to Dolan’s mandate for significant progress or else (whatever that means)
6/28 – “I’d rather bet on myself. If my career is in the hands of somebody else, trust is not something that I have a lot of these days.” – accepting the challenge of coaching his roster
6/28 – “No, because I stand here before you today in all honesty and I say I would still rather have Eddy Curry than any player in this draft and every G.M. polled would take Eddy Curry in this draft. And if we had the second pick, I would have traded the second pick in the draft for Eddy Curry.” – defending the Eddy Curry trade on draft night
August 8 -
“I spent a lot of time this summer talking to different people about chemistry because one of the things that was written and said and that’s true about us is the chemistry wasn’t right. And what Jared brings to us, more so than talent, he brings chemistry. I think he balances your locker room. He balances the plane ride. Relationshipwise, in a group setting, he’s the chemical piece that makes everything kind of work, in a strange kind of way.” -introducing Jared Jefferies.
October 10 – “I knew exactly what I was thinking. I wasn’t looking for Jerome to be an offensive player. I’m more than confident that the things that I want out of him, in terms of defending and rebounding, he’s very capable of doing. And he will do them. If you’re asking him to be a 20-point scorer and you want to judge him on his low-post game, then you’re looking at the wrong guy. But for a $5 million investment, and we didn’t have a center, I know exactly what I was doing. And you should keep that in mind. It’s not $30 million a year, it’s only five. I’m just saying, for centers in this league, backup, starting, whoever, we got a pretty good price there.” – defending his signing of Jerome James
October 13 – “Chances are, when you look at our schedule, we may start out in a hole. And you can’t get so buried in a hole that you lose hope. And you’ve got to have enough intestinal fortitude to fight yourself out of the hole and persevere and overcome the obstacles.” – after the preseason opener
October 25 – “He’s a big man; he’s a nice man. But there needs to come a time when it’s ‘Don’t play with Eddy.’ We want him to really have a presence out on the floor.” – urging Eddy Curry to be more tough on the court.
11/4 – “This is an unmerciful league, and we’ll have a long memory. And one day, we’ll be the team that’s on top, doing the kicking and the stepping, And when we kick and we step, if we ever get to the top, it’s going to be a hard kick and a hard step, just like people have stepped on us pretty hard. We’ll be pretty unforgiving when we get on top.” – referring to how the Pacers celebrated their 109-95 win in the home opener
11/6 – “I was looking for a few good men,” – after using reserves to get his team back in a game against the Spurs and putting 42 million in salary on the bench.
12/16 – “Hey, don’t go to the basket right now. It wouldn’t be a good idea.Just letting you know.” – his apparent threat to Carmelo Anthony that sparked the brawl heard around the world
12/27 – “Our crowd had a huge impact on the game tonight. “Being at home definitely has again become very comfortable to us. We like to play here now. It’s a good feeling when the Garden puts its arms around you.” – after a 151-145 three OT win over Detroit
12/29 “They’re a beautiful basketball team. The way they move, the way they pass, the way they cut, they’re good. One day, again, the goal is to try to get to that kind of level of play.” – correctly describing the Suns after a blowout loss
1/3 – “This is a big win for us. “This whole season, every time it seems like we are at death’s door the team responds and gets a win.
“Who knows maybe this will turn out to be a very lucky season for us.” – after a 99-81 win in Portland
1/10 – “I think we’ve gotten to a point where we’re not looked at as one of those teams that you’re supposed to beat. I know we’ve gotten better as a basketball team, and I know next month we’ll be better than we are this month. But we’ve gotten to the level where I think we’re starting to get some respect around the league, that it’s not a ‘gimme’ anymore.” – before a 13-point home win over the 76ers
Gathered by Larry Fleisher of http://www.insidehoops.com from the New York Times archives
2/6 – “I never thought we would see .500 at home,” after a win over the Clippers improved the Knicks to 13-13 at home.
2/26 – “It’d be nice if the godfather anointed him also,” – looking for Shaq to respect Eddy Curry
3/18 – “I’m not a drug addict, but he’s my No. 1 drug,.“If it got close, that’s the button that I’ll push. I can’t help it. It’s like I’m Pavlov’s dog.” – after a rare blowout win allowed Curry to rest.
4/19 – “You may look at the record. But I don’t think there’s a team out there that walks in saying, ‘This is an easy night for us.’ You can’t say that wasn’t the case all the time. I don’t think that will be again.” – reflecting on the 2006-07 season
6/13 – ”I’m kind of hoping we don’t embarrass ourselves too much,’ – when the Knicks announced an exhibition game with Maccabi Tel Aviv
6/29 – “It’s safe to say that the ball will be in one of their hands most every time down the court. We’ll throw the ball inside. Either it will be in Eddy’s hands on one side or it will be in Zach’s hands on the other. The thing that’s intriguing about Zach is he can step out. He has a great midrange game.” – discussing the acquisition of Zach Randolph.
October 11 – “I don’t think any of us received a warm reaction tonight. Whatever reaction that happens to me or for me, I’m a big boy. I’ve handled and conducted myself well, and I’ve been yelled at, screamed at, booed at. And I know how to handle myself. I’ll be fine, thank you.” – after most of the Macabbi Tel Aviv fans booed him at MSG
October 22 – ”I think players are starting to pick up their intensity as we get closer to the season,” – after a preseason victory over Boston.
November 2007 (It gets good here…)
November 2 – “This is a year where the best people play” – after benching Marbury in the season opener
November 13 – “We need leadership from that position at the point guard, and we also need defense. And those are two things that he’s definitely capable of doing. And when he returns, that’s what I expect out of him.” – explaining his decision to bench Marbury.
November 14 – “We’ll keep that in-house” – whether Marbury’s absence was excused or unexcused.
November 16 – “I’ve played with people I don’t like; I’ve won with people I don’t like,” – on welcoming Marbury back and comparing it to his playing career in Detroit
November 21 – “That’s on Isiah tonight. You never want to see this type of display of basketball, anywhere. And that’s on my desk. That’s on me.” – after his team made 29 turnovers in a 108-82 drubbing by the Warriors.
November 24 – “In New York, you’re either dead or alive. You lose a game and you’re dead, and you win one and you basically get to survive.” – after a win over the Bulls
November 26 – “He’s self-driven and he’s self-motivated, so you don’t have to get on him too often. But you do have to remind him sometimes of how good he should be, and don’t let him accept where he is.” – referring to Marbury after a win over Utah
November 29 – “I thought every single player was thinking about himself, as opposed to thinking about the team. I don’t know where this game came from.” – after a 104-59 loss in Boston on national TV.
November 30 – “Every time you lose a game in New York, we’re on death row here. So tonight they unstrapped the belts and I get to walk. And had we lost, I’m sure they’d have wet me down.” – after a 91-88 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in which the Knicks rallied from 17 points down.
December 8 – “We had a rough start, but we’re starting to stabilize here.” – an hour before the Sixers rebounded and laughed their way to a 105-77 victory at MSG.
December 8 “I don’t really think this is a time to threaten anyone. I think it’s a time for me to get my team feeling good about themselves again and build their confidence up and get them back to trusting and loving each other and being a team.” – after that same loss.
December 10 -”It’s the fans’ fault because they don’t have a good sixth man,” – speaking to season ticket holder Mara Altschuler.
December 10 “I was just trying to make sure that we kept the team together and we stayed focused on what we were doing, in trying to win a basketball game. Our fans are great. They support us and they show up and we’re glad they’re here. – attempting to downplay the conversation with the fan following a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
December 11 “To me, it’s win or die. And I literally mean death. I don’t mean walk away. I mean death. That’s how I approach it. And we got a job to do here, we’re going to get it done. I’m confident we got the right players, I’m confident we got the right people, and we’ll dig our way out of this.
December 14 – “There’s certain things that he probably won’t ever be good at doing,” Thomas said. “We want to just make sure that he keeps doing the things that he knows how to do well.” – admitting that Eddy Curry might not be good at some important things like defending, rebounding and shot blocking
December 17 – “There are a lot of things that can be said about me and teams that I’ve coached and the way I played,” Thomas said Monday night, “but I’ve never been accused of not having heart or competing. And tonight was very discouraging to me because we didn’t collectively play with heart and compete like I know I do.”
December 17 – “We don’t have the grit to sustain a run. A team makes a run at us and collectively we just cave. We just give in.”
December 17 – “I can give you a lot of things, but I can’t give you pride and heart.” He said he looked forward to the day when the questions would be about what he did wrong strategically, and not “about heart and courage.”
December 18 “I’m not happy about where we are. And if we don’t turn it around soon, then yeah, we’ll have to make some changes.” – after totally ripping his players for their 119-92 loss to Indiana