After an illustrious high school career at St. Joseph High School (Ill.), Thomas committed to the University of Indiana in 1979. Under head coach Bob Knight, Thomas flourished, averaging 15.4 points and 5.7 assists en route to Big Ten titles in 1979-80 and 1980-81.
2 of 16Manny Millan/SI
The stars aligned for Thomas and Indiana during the 1980-81 season. With Thomas as the captain, the Hoosiers went 26-9 before cruising to the 1981 national title. Thomas took home the Most Outstanding Player award and shortly thereafter declared for the NBA draft.
3 of 16Jerry Wachter/SI
The Detroit Pistons selected Thomas second overall in the 1981 NBA draft. With a young squad surrounding him, Thomas helped lead the Pistons to a 39-43 record, an 18-win improvement over the previous season.
4 of 16Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Thomas made the All-Star team as a second-year player in 1982, his first of 12 straight selections. During the East's 154-145 victory in the '84 All-Star Game Thomas won his first All-Star Game MVP.
5 of 16Walter Iooss Jr/SI
Thomas (right) and Michael Jordan went head-to-head several times throughout their careers, and while Thomas never neared Jordan's championship record, his Pistons thrice vanquished the Bulls from the playoffs (in four postseason matchups).
6 of 16John Biever/SI
In 1987, Thomas helped lead the Pistons to the Eastern Conference finals. But with the NBA Finals on the horizon, Thomas stumbled in Game 5, throwing an inbounds pass into the hands of Larry Bird and giving away the game. The Celtics went on to win in seven games.
7 of 16V.J. Lovero/SI
Thomas and the Pistons finally broke through in 1989. With a deep and balanced team, featuring the likes of Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars, the Pistons cruised to a 63-19 record, the best in the East. In a rematch of the previous year, the Pistons faced the Lakers, sweeping their Western Conference foe in four games.
8 of 16Richard Drew/AP
The Pistons repeated in 1990, defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in five games behind Finals MVP Thomas, who averaged 27.6 points and 7.0 assists.
9 of 16CARLO ALLEGRI/AFP/Getty Images
Thomas retired from the league in 1994 and promptly moved into a management position with the Toronto Raptors. During his tenure with the team, the Raptors drafted Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby and Tracy McGrady.
10 of 16Jeffrey Lowe/SI
In late 1999, Thomas purchased the Continental Basketball Association, then the developmental league for the NBA. Under his leadership, the league fell out of favor with the NBA and was forced to declare bankruptcy and fold.
11 of 16Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Despite his position with the CBA, Thomas (left) was offered and accepted the head coaching position with the Indiana Pacers in the summer of 2000. Under his watch, the Pacers made the playoffs for three straight years but failed to advance past the first round despite a core featuring young stars such as Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest and Al Harrington. He was replaced by Rick Carlisle during the 2003 offseason.
12 of 16Gregory Bull/AP
Thomas didn't stay unemployed for long. In late 2003, he was named the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks. In that position, Thomas orchestrated several moves, trading for Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry, among others. Despite robust financial resources, the Knicks finished with the worst record (23-59) in the East in 2005-06.
13 of 16Greg Nelson/SI
Following the buyout of coach Larry Brown in the summer of 2006, Thomas assumed coaching responsibilities in New York. With Thomas at the helm, the Knicks missed the playoffs for two straight seasons and tied a franchise worst with 59 losses during the 2007-08 season.
14 of 16John W. McDonough/SI
In 2007, Thomas and the Knicks were the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former MSG employee. The parties eventually settled for $11.5 million, but not before the lawsuit revealed sordid details about the organization and star player Stephon Marbury (right).
15 of 16Lynne Sladky/AP
A year after he was released by the Knicks, Thomas accepted a head coaching offer at Florida International University. In three years with the team, Thomas tallied a 26-65 record.
16 of 16Julie Jacobson/AP
According to a recent report in the New York Daily News , Knicks owner James Dolan recently met with Thomas about returning to the organization. But, according to sources quoted, Thomas is not ready to jump back into the NBA ... yet.
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