Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Unknown Black Male

Imagine if everything you've ever known, everyone you've ever loved, every trade you've ever green-lighted disappeared in an instant? How would your family react to you? Would you know how to carry on?

This is the story of Isiah Thomas. A former NBA great, the only way he knows this now is through having watched videotaped interviews of himself comparing himself with Larry, Magic and Michael. One day, in the early summer of 2006, he walked into the psychiatric ward of New York Methodist Hospital. Most of the people there that day responded with an overwhelming sense of relief, grateful that the man known as "Zeke" had finally decided to have himself committed. But soon, it became clear that Isiah had no idea who he was and had no identification. He made wild claims of having been attacked by a tiny Jewish man in tortoise shell glasses with a clipboard, but he could remember nothing of his life before that point. The only identifying feature he had on his person was a backpack containing the telephone number of Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons.

And it here that Mr. Thomas' incredible story gets really, really incredibly story-ish. You see, for the past what seems like three decades, Mr. Thomas had been the General Manager of a New York City area professional basketball team. He was incredibly well compensated for his work, was nationally famous and even sometimes took on stints as a television analyst despite being completely hopeless at this easiest of all jobs. He remembered most of this after showing up at NYMH that day in 2006 - but what he didn't remember was most interesting of all.

It was as though the colossally shit trades he had concocted during his tenure as Knicks GM had never happened. Whether he was in the VIP at Scores or simply "flossing", Isiah would simply answer "F**K you talkin' bout?" when asked about his astounding managerial prowess. When he returned to work at Madison Square Garden and saw Steve Francis there, he demanded that the petulant millionaire leave immediately. While he acknowledged Stephon Marbury's presence, he would wonder aloud "what idiot brought that a**hole here?"

All this raised the obvious question - did Zeke simply fabricate the "amnesia" in order to excuse himself from the mess he had made of the team. Suspicions were raised when he heard of the sexual harassment lawsuit leveled against him by a former employee and he responded "I wouldn't hit that shit with a baseball bat."

Does he forget? Is he lying? Will he remember being fired from an NBA team one last time? Does anyone in NYC still care? These are the questions Zeke will be asking himself. The question is, will he remember how he should answer them?


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