Isiah Thomas: “It’s good to see the rivalry between Chicago and Detroit go to Paris”

Legend of the “Bad Boys” of Detroit, NBA champions in 1989 and 1990 and reviled by fans in his hometown of Chicago, Isiah Thomas is an ambassador of choice for matches between the Pistons and the Bulls. On January 19, the former leader, who has invested in a brand of champagne in France, will be, except unforeseen, in the stands of the AccorArena in Paris for the first relocation to France of this historic NBA poster.

“Detroit-Chicago will be the second regular season game in Paris (after Milwaukee-Charlotte in January 2020), was it important for the Pistons to be able to play in France?
Yes, it’s always important for Detroit and any NBA team to be able to travel outside the United States, play in other countries and meet foreign fans, especially in France. I know there are a lot of Pistons fans: “Bad Boys” fans (to smile) but also others, younger. It’s a good time to show them the team.

There was a strong rivalry between Detroit and Chicago, is it still a particular poster?
It’s always a special meeting between the Pistons and the Bulls. This is one of the historic rivalries of the NBA, to see it exported to Paris is a good thing. Detroit is now a young team, in reconstruction (14th and penultimate in the Eastern Conference in 2022). Chicago is a more established team, they made the play-offs (elimination in the first round against Milwaukee). It will be a good poster with young players in the making and a contested match.

“Every time we play at home, we want to put on a show (to smile). I hope Killian (Hayes) does the same in front of his family and friends.”

Detroit has a Frenchman in its workforce, point guard Killian Hayes. After a difficult second season, he finished the regular phase better. How do you judge his debut in the NBA?
Like most young players, he needs time to grow in the NBA. His first two seasons taught him a lot, he played well at the end of last season with Cade Cunningham (the new star of Detroit). I think his third season will be better. I hope he will continue to grow and participate in the success of the Pistons. I have already spoken with him and I continue to tell him “slowly but surely”, to continue his progress.

In what area does he need to improve the most?
His defensive performance and his passing game are his two best assets at the moment. The third thing is his shooting. Once he scores more and has more confidence in his ability to put his shots, Killian will be a complete player.

How would you approach the match in Paris if you were in his place? Is this an opportunity to show off a little more than usual?
Every time we play at home, we wanna show (to smile). I grew up in Chicago, every time I came back I wanted to show off in front of my family and friends. I hope Killian does the same. But the main advice I would give him is to have a lot of tickets for the match: lots of people, his family, his friends will ask him for them. (he’s laughing). »

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