In a month — heck, in a week — you’ll never think about Florida International again. You have only one night in which they’ll enter your brain at all, and that’s tonight. Because tonight is the college coaching debut of Isiah Thomas. The man who destroyed the Knicks so thoroughly that he is currently being paid to stay as far away as possible, whose ghost still haunts everything in which the Knicks are involved (including next year’s NBA draft, where the Jazz will take the Knicks’ pick, for reasons even Isiah couldn’t explain) … he’s reappearing in public tonight.
Isiah, looking to remake his image and find something he can’t destroy so thoroughly, took a job this off-season as the head coach of Florida International, a public school in Miami whose basketball team went 13–20 last season, good for fifth place in the East Division of the Sun Belt conference. In other words: He is starting at the absolute bottom. There is nothing to destroy. We suppose this counts as a smart move.
Isiah has actually had some recruiting success, signing forward Dominique Ferguson, the eighth-ranked recruit in the country, for next season. You can understand why Isiah might do well in that regard. These are 17-year-old kids who don’t know any better.
Florida International won’t be on television much this season, but they are on tonight because they’re playing defending champion North Carolina. (Isiah tried to get out of the game, with no success.) If you have ESPN-U, you’ll be able to watch it. They’re going to get massacred.
Starting at the bottom like this, with a team with no history of success or even relevance, would seem to make it impossible for Isiah to screw up this job. But we have faith that he will find a way.