Eddie Johnson Praises Isiah Thomas: 'Could've Scored 30 a Game'

Zeke's Debut Ignites Detroit's Rise to Contention.

by Nouman Rasool
Eddie Johnson Praises Isiah Thomas: 'Could've Scored 30 a Game'
© Nic Antaya/Getty Images

In the annals of NBA history, the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" of the late '80s and early '90s loom large, with Isiah Thomas, affectionately known as Zeke, serving as the heart and soul of the team. Yet, according to Eddie Johnson, a contemporary of Thomas and a star in his own right with the Sacramento Kings, Thomas's exceptional abilities were evident long before the Pistons ascended to the pinnacle of the league.

Johnson, reflecting on their shared entry into the NBA, highlighted Thomas's remarkable selflessness on the court as the cornerstone of his greatness. On the NBA 75 Stories series, Johnson expressed his admiration, noting, "I knew he was going to be special.

He's one of the most special basketball players we have had in this league and one of the most unselfish, because he could have scored 30 points a game. But he understood that mere scoring doesn't equate to victory."

Thomas Transforms Pistons

Thomas's arrival in Detroit marked a transformative era for the Pistons, who had been languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

With an impressive rookie season, Thomas immediately showcased his impact, averaging 17 points, 7.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. By his third season, the Pistons had emerged as formidable contenders in the East, with Thomas as a potential MVP.

Despite the dominance of Julius Erving and Larry Bird in the Eastern Conference, Thomas remained focused on collective success. Johnson commended Thomas's leadership, noting, "He allowed his teammates to play a significant role offensively.

He also enhanced the team's defense, creating a strategy to overcome teams like the Boston Celtics through physical play and his skill in facilitating rather than solely scoring." Thomas retired as a two-time champion, a 12-time All-Star, and the Finals MVP, leaving an indelible mark on the sport.

While debates about the greatest point guards may place Magic Johnson at the pinnacle, Thomas humorously asserted his superiority, despite acknowledging Magic's greatness. "My [all-time] five would include Magic at the one...

But I was better than Magic [laughs]," Thomas once quipped. While opinions may vary on Thomas's place among the NBA's elite, for many, including Johnson, Thomas's potential was boundless. His legacy is not only defined by his achievements but also by the tantalizing possibilities of what could have been, had his unselfish nature allowed him to fully unleash his scoring prowess.