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Thursday, February 3, 2011
When Isaiah Thomas met Isiah Thomas

By Eamonn Brennan

That's right. Isaiah Thomas, the Washington guard who's quietly making a case for Pac-10 (and even national) player of the year honors, was named after the former Pistons guard, current FIU head coach, and formerly disastrous New York Knicks general manger Isiah Thomas. So, naturally, Isaiah (two a's) was thrilled when Isiah (one a) introduced himself after a February 2009 loss at UCLA.

How do I know all this? Because Sports Illustrated's Pablo S. Torre uncovered as much for a feature in this week's magazine issue (which I was reading in paper format on my airplane until I realized I had INTERNET IN THE SKY). The feature is worth the read for a variety of interesting reasons, but the story of the time the two Thomases met is probably my favorite. See if you can guess why:
"I didn't believe my mom when she first told me," Isaiah recalls. But there was the man himself: praising Isaiah's style, handing him his number, building his confidence. (Isiah was flouting an NBA policy that forbids teams to have any communication with players who have remaining college eligibility, but no matter.) "The first thing I told him," says Isiah, who became the coach at Florida International that April, "was that what separates a good player from a bad player is how much that player believes in himself." The two have stayed in touch ever since, exchanging advice and aphorisms roughly once a week.

Did you guess right? Yep, it was this parenthetical: "Isiah was flouting an NBA policy that forbids teams to have any communication with players who have remaining college eligibility, but no matter." Even in an interesting, enlightening story about one of the country's most exciting players, Big Zeke's involvement means chronicling at least one broken rule. Hilarious.

Anyway, check out the story if you're not familiar with some of Isaiah's background, his tweet game, and the like. And be prepared to know the kid's name. Washington has the look of a deep tournament team, and if that happens, Thomas has the chance to become a major March star.