Monday, October 27, 2008

A Spoonful of....Medicine, Helps the Medicine...Kill You

Isiah Thomas Overdosed.
Or not. Or, yeah, he did.

For those of you wondering why I wasn't chomping at the bit to glory in the latest Isiah Thomas-related spectacle, here's your answer: Sean Taylor.

You see, the morning that the Washington Redskins Pro Bowler was shot in his home in Florida I went to post about it in that morning's The Starting Five. I had a kicked-in-balls sort of joke ready to go about the gunshot wound to his groin. Because, you see, the first reports didn't make it seem like Taylor was in mortal danger from the injury. Not at all. So, I clicked "Publish Now" and that was that. Until it wasn't.

A few minutes later the word coming north from Florida was that Taylor was in critical condition. He was maybe even dying. I pulled the post down and re-wrote it to reflect the direness of the situation. But I still felt like shit all day long. It sucked. I mean the joke was probably a good one (because aren't all my jokes...) but it was written for its own sake and without any concern regarding what actually happened. So, from then on I decided that when someone's life is in the balance I hold off until all of the facts are in.

Well, the facts are in. Or at least the disputed facts are in. And Isiah Thomas is alive and seemingly still a self-serving egomaniac. He may also be severely depressed and in need of some serious counseling. But, let's start with the breathing and being a jerk side of the equation before touching on the sad, sadder and saddest aspects of the story.

Although, it's been covered in depth in all the papers and The Big Lead had a good summary of the whole thing on Saturday morning, here's another account of what happened.

Late Thursday Night a 911 call originates from Thomas's home on Azalea Court in Purchase, NY. The call was fielded by the state police and then turned over to local officials, who dispatched police and an ambulance to the address. Someone in distress was taken five miles to the White Plains Hospital Center.

And, here is where everyone starts to disagree.

Isiah Thomas claims that the medical emergency involved his 18-year-old daughter, who suffers from hypoglycemia. The police claim that the emergency involved a 47-year-old black man, who would obviously be Isiah. Police say that Isiah was found unconscious in his kitchen after having ingested approximately 10 Lunesta sleeping pills. All of the on-the-record evidence backs up the cops' version of events.

So, what then?

Then it got ugly. Accustomed to piling on Isiah after his disastrous stint as Knicks President and coach, many came out first in mock-shock and then shockingly to mock the fallen Detroit Pistons star. Even though I don't doubt that Isiah did overdose on sleeping pills, I also don't think that fact takes Harrison Police Chief David Hall off the hook for providing his own needless editorial comments to any pen-carrying journalist. It's one thing to answer questions about the discrepancy in accounts of the night. That's fine. It's his job. I think. Although, I'm pretty sure that since no criminal charges were filed as a result of the incident and Isaiah wasn't viewed as a danger to himself that Police Chief Hall could have referred all questions to the family. Still, maybe he is required to answer any question posed to him. Fine. But, if so, I'm sure that he doesn't need to give the Associated Press quotes like, "It wasn't his daughter. And why they're throwing her under the bus is beyond my ability to understand."

Hall, then went on to compare Isiah's lie about what happened to Nixon's cover-up of Watergate. Ok. Thanks. The wanton glee that Hall took in inserting himself into the story and the reportage of it is what really makes this whole thing so weird and gross. I also think the adversarial pose of the police contributes to the general confusion over it.

That being said, I'm not confused over the facts. I don't doubt that Isiah was the one who needed the paramedics. I don't doubt that Isaiah knowingly lied about his daughter to try to defuse the situation. And to, in some misguided attempt, avoid embarrassment. After all, this guy threw Stephon Marbury under every bus at the Port Authority. Perhaps Isiah's biggest weakness is his confidence in his ability to stay ahead of story and to author his own version of events. In the Post, Marc Berman writes that he thinks that Isiah didn't fully grasp the traction of the story on the Internet and on television when he claimed that his daughter needed the medical attention rather than him. I agree with Berman.

So, what next?

The lasting part of this tale of woe is the window it give us to the sorry state of Isiah's life. Banished from pro hoops, he is a pariah and reportedly "steeped in sadness". His life sucks. And, even though no one regards this as a suicide attempt it is hard not to view the overdose as a cry for help. And, no matter what this guy did to my team and no matter how often I was critical of him (which ranged from often to always), you don't wish this sort of burdensome depression on anyone. It sucks. It's sad. And if this incident is any indication we're all going to bear witness to it in the coming months.