Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman wrote a recent column about the Isiah Thomas she knew while covering his Pistons career — including back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990 — for the Detroit Free Press.
"I didn't write the column to defend him professionally, but I wanted to show that he's not a monster," said Kaufman, formerly of the St. Petersburg Times.
"I felt as if everything else being written was looking through the same window. I wanted to at least look through a different window at the same person and say, okay, he has had failures professionally since his playing days and he had the sexual harassment suit. But as a woman who covered him for all those years, I never experienced that from him.
"I just wanted to say to the readers that, 'Hey, I've known this guy for 20 years and he's been nothing but respectful to me — more respectful than many other athletes I've dealt with."
Kaufman recalled a time that Thomas insisted on anonymously donating basketball equipment and gear to a playground program she had written about (she revealed it only in her April 15 column); and how he once called her father, being treated in a Miami hospital, out of the blue to boost his spirits.
"It's got to be an ego blow to go from the Palace of Auburn Hills to the Golden Panthers arena," Kaufman said. "But give the guy a shot. He wants a clean start and thinks he can bring a team up from the ground floor. He may fail miserably, but I don't think it's fair to just trash the guy."
To read Kaufman's column, click on http://tiny.cc/FIM2h.