Isiah Thomas’ professional career spans more than three decades in business and sports. He has garnered worldwide attention for his contributions on all levels of professional basketball, including induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, and for his successful business initiatives and philanthropic endeavors.
Thomas was named the President & Alternate Governor of the New York Liberty in May 2015, and since that time the Liberty has enjoyed two of the most successful seasons in franchise history.
In 2015, New York posted a franchise-best 23-11 regular season record, finished with the best record in the WNBA for the first time in franchise history, and was the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2002. A year later, the Liberty again surpassed 20 wins, going 21-13 to finish 1st in the Eastern Conference and secure a 2nd-straight WNBA Playoff berth.
In 2016, the Liberty vaulted to 2nd amongst WNBA franchises in total attendance, and over the past two seasons, New York has been the league leader in partnership revenue and sponsorship revenue.
Thomas’ vision with the Liberty is led by his focus on Community, Chemistry, Defense and Making Memories on and off the court.
“When building this team, there are four specific goals in mind,” says Thomas. “We want our team to have great chemistry, identify players that would have a positive impact in the community, to be known for our on court defense first and making memories that will last forever.”
The Liberty has bolstered its position as a franchise that fights for social equality, as its players have utilized their platforms to speak out against injustices through support of the Black Live Matter movement, LGBT rights, and gender equity.
Thomas’ leadership and sharp business acumen continue to serve him well in his post-playing days. Following his retirement from the NBA, Thomas took a front office position as part owner and Executive Vice President of the Toronto Raptors expansion team. He also served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers; President, General Manager and Coach of the New York Knicks; and was owner of the Continental Basketball Association.
As Chairman and CEO of Isiah International LLC, an investment holdings company, Thomas is also the owner of several companies which include: Isiah Real Estate, a development firm specializing in commercial properties; TAND Properties, a property management firm, private equity and asset management firm; Isiah Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations; Thomas Imports, the exclusive importer of Cheurlin Champagnes and GRE3N Waste Removal. Thomas also co-owns the waste removal’s sister company, RE3 Recycling, with his daughter, Lauren.
His other business investments include Popcorn Indiana (Co-Founder), and Sweetgreen.
As a player, Thomas built a reputation as a tireless worker and formidable competitor. The competitor-turned coach and manager was noted for his keen eye for discovering new talent. Thomas’ leadership and fighting spirit helped guide the last-place Detroit Pistons to back-to-back championships in 1988 and 1989. While a Detroit Piston, Thomas was a player representative for the National Basketball Players Association and went on to serve as Vice President. In 1988, the NBA players elected Thomas to serve as President of the NBPA, where he served through 1994. During his NBPA tenure from 1983-1994, he helped establish four historic Collective Bargaining Agreements and pushed to raise the average NBA player’s salary. He also used his keen knowledge of marketing to help build the expansion of professional basketball into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Thomas combined commitment, intelligence, and his athletic ability fortified him to become an NBA All-Star and Champion. Off the court, he dedicates a large portion of his time to working with youth programs in urban communities, helping to instill confidence, teamwork and leadership skills in young people. Inspired by his mother’s work to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and families in Chicago, Thomas founded the Mary’s Court Foundation in her honor to support the health, safety, academic and personal achievement of Chicago’s youth and youth around the country. Thomas’ service to educational, anti-crime and anti-poverty programs began in Detroit when he was in the NBA and continues today in many more cities across the United States.
Thomas gained national recognition for his role in Chicago’s Peace Tournaments and his advocacy to prevent youth violence. With Father Michael Pfleger, Thomas launched the Peace Tournaments to reduce gang violence through communication and athletics. In early 2013, Thomas in partnership with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel started a fundraising campaign to launch the Windy City Hoops program in ten park districts, offering a safe haven to kids and families through sports, and now he serves on the Chicago Public Safety Action Committee. He has also awarded more than 100 scholarships to criminal justice students through The Isiah Thomas Scholarship at Indiana University and has recently announced a new annual scholarship at the University of California at Berkley in the African American Studies department.
Thomas credits his mother with instilling in him the importance of education. He finished his college degree at Indiana University during the Pistons’ off-seasons and received his Master’s in Education from University of California at Berkeley in 2013.
Along with the talented and highly acclaimed actor, Robert Townsend, Isiah worked as the Executive Producer of “Playin’ for Love,” a romantic comedy film about life on and off of the basketball court starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Jenifer Lewis, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Esai Morales and was shot on location in Overtown, one of Miami’s roughest neighborhoods. Due to Isiah’s continued work in the community, upon connecting with Townsend for this film, they received many corporate and community sponsorships not limited to the Miami Heat, NBA star Dwayne Wade, Jamba Juice, Connor Sports and American Federation of Teachers.
Born and raised on Chicago’s West Side, Isiah Thomas is the youngest of nine children raised by his mother, Mary Thomas. His mother’s courage and conviction continues to inspire his philanthropic work. Thomas has two adult children, Joshua and Lauren, and he currently lives in New York with his wife of 30 years and college sweetheart, Lynn Kendall Thomas.
Thomas currently serves as an analyst for NBATV and is a regular contributor to NBA.com and Huffington Post.