Isiah Thomas is arguably the greatest basketball player ever at 6'0" or shorter, and was regarded for his toughness as the point guard and leader of the NBA Detroit Pistons. He was the leader of the 'Bad Boys' era in Detroit, and was nicknamed 'snake' because of his toughness and sharp tongue with his teammates.
Thomas recently stunned the college basketball world - both by returning to the coaching ranks as the Head Coach of the Florida International University basketball team, and by then offering to donate his base salary in his first season back.
Here's a sign of how badly Isiah Thomas wanted to return to coaching: He's working for free at Florida International.
At his introductory news conference at FIU on Wednesday, Thomas said his salary the first year from the Golden Panthers will be donated back to the school's athletic department.
Thomas was fired by the New York Knicks last year. The team still owes him around $12 million for the final two years of his deal there.
Isiah Thomas said he knows building FIU's basketball program will take effort, but said "I'm willing to pay the price to do that."
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said that when Thomas learned about layoffs and budget cuts, he told the university president that the school should keep his salary.
It made for good TV yesterday - and whether this was a Santa Claus-like gesture, or 'snake' talking a good game because his deal with the Knicks won't allow him to take a base salary at another coaching job, remains to be seen.
Either way, Thomas will rehabilitate his career and look to resuscitate the FIU program. Thomas said he took the FIU job because he enjoys challenges, and that he conferred with Bob Knight, his former coach at Indiana, and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, about what it took to build college programs.
"I like rolling up my sleeves. I like taking some from the bottom and building it to the top. There's a lot of risk in that and there is also a lot of reward in that. But that's how I grew up. I want to take FIU to the next level and I know it's going to take a lot of hard work, but I'm willing to pay the price to do that."