Larry Fleisher at InsideHoops has dug through the archives of The New York Times and assembled a massive treasure trove of Isiah Thomas quotes. Some of it is pretty amazing.
One that stuck out to me is this, from a February 16, 2004 Times story by Chris Broussard:
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.
Here's what strikes me about that: this is a great choice of a quote if you want to make the case that Isiah Thomas has been insincere. (Have you been to the Garden lately? With a few exceptions, the mood is not enjoyable.)
But the thing is, I suspect Thomas was being totally sincere. Blame it on whatever you want, but things have just not worked out.
I bet the biggest culprit was the determination to use outspending as a competitive advantage. As Portland and New York have both proved in the past, in a league with a salary cap, carrying excessive contracts is a burden even if you don't mind spending the money.