- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Isiah Thomas said Friday he isn't through with basketball and would like to be a college coach or in the NBA again.
Thomas was fired as Florida International's coach in April after compiling a 26-65 record in three seasons. He previously coached in the NBA with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers and served as the general manager for the Knicks and Toronto Raptors.
"I definitely want to be in basketball again whether it be coaching or as a general manager," Thomas said by phone. "My gift is basketball. I would love working with the kids. If it's the right college program, I would consider it. If it's the right GM job or coaching job in the NBA, I would consider it. I love the game. I just want to be in the game."
Thomas said he knows his name is still often brought up regarding positions with the Knicks because of his friendship with team owner James Dolan. Knicks coach Mike Woodson recently said he didn't plan on adding Thomas to his staff.
Thomas would not comment on whether he's had conversations with the Knicks about a potential position with the team.
"I have great friends in the organization," said Thomas, a two-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star with the Detroit Pistons. "A lot of them I gave them their first job opportunities in the NBA. The owner and I have a very good relationship. It's an organization I will always root for and will always want them to do well because they're all personal friends of mine."
Despite his strong feelings for the Knicks, Thomas said he would listen to any coaching or general manager offers in the NBA.
"I'm like everyone else, I keep my options open," Thomas said. "My mom always said don't burn any bridges. I followed her advice. It would have to be the right option and right place."
Thomas believes there are different positives in having a college program and being in the NBA.
"They're both rewarding," he said. "In college, you can catch the kids at a young age. You get to shape and mold them with a bond as a family. You really have a chance to talk about their education, help them grow and mature and see them jump off the diving board and into the pool and swim, so to speak.
"In the NBA, you don't get to deal with players at that level. It's really a business. You have to do more or less straddle the line and deal with the emotions of players."
Thomas felt he wasn't given enough time to succeed at Florida International. With the players he had coming in this season and the ones returning from last season's 8-21 team, Thomas believed the program was on the rise.
"College sports finds itself in a transition right now," Thomas said. "There's old-school guys who know it takes time to build and do things right. Then, there's the new school that probably thinks you can get it done in 2-3 years. That's not how it goes. If I can find the right people with the right program, I'm confident I can put together a good college program."
Thomas also realized people were going to continue to knock him for his failures.
"When you have had a lot of success, when you do have a failure, people like to point that one failure a lot," Thomas said. "That just comes with the territory. It's no different than being one of the top programs. It's no different than at a Notre Dame, a Michigan, an Indiana.
"Even Coach (Bobby) Knight and Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski), they have people who love them and they definitely have their detractors. At the end of the day, they've won more than they've lost. At the end of the day, I've won more than I've lost."