Isiah Thomas: Tough conversation 'starts and ends with sports'
NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas plans to visit Sacramento again, not necessarily to watch basketball.
Thomas was at Golden 1 Center on Monday for the California Classic Youth Forum, a writing workshop and panel discussion on ways youths can improve their life skills prior to the tip-off of the California Classic summer league games.
"Now that I'm a little more connected, I definitely will be back just to survey and see what's happening in the community," Thomas said. "And I may not even come to a game, I may just hit the community."
Approximately 200 children took part in the forum that included Vice President of Kings Academy and Professional Development Galen Duncan, Greater Sacramento Urban League CEO Cassandra Jennings and Pastor Les Simmons.
It was the latest event that is apart of the Kings' partnership with the Build. Black. Coalition following protests stemming from the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police in March.
Thomas, who works as a television analyst in addition to his own community work, said the response of the Kings to the protests led him to want to support the organization's efforts.
And it just wasn't what Thomas saw from active players or current ownership that caught his attention.
"When I saw Matt Barnes with the mic in his hand speaking with his kids, and I had Matt Barnes in New York, when I saw Doug Christie at the mic, when I talked to Vlade (Divac) and I talked to Peja (Stojakovic), these are all sports heroes in this community and they could have shied away," Thomas said. "They could have had nothing to do with it, but from day one they were at the forefront, leading, speaking and talking, because that's what we do."
Thomas shared stories of growing up poor in Chicago and being made fun of as a child because of his clothes. He believes sports is the right platform to discuss self-improvement, community involvement and solving problems.
Thomas said from athletes such as Joe Louis, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson, sports has always been the forum to start dialogue on bigger issues.
"This is the place where we have the conversations, where we come in and we deal with the tough issues," Thomas said. "We deal with the tough issues and we talk about it. For the Sacramento Kings and their owners to step up and be a part of the solution, when they didn't have to be — they stepped in because that's what we do in sports and that's what we've done in the NBA."