Today is a beautiful day. You know why? Because its 60 degrees and sunny where I am and Billy Thomas is back in the NBA. That's right, Billy was signed by the New Jersey Nets on his 32nd birthday Monday. "Best birthday gift I ever had," Thomas said.
Before there was Darnell Jackson, the original man crush was on Billy T. He was a Freshman at KU the same year I was. He played the type of game I wish I could play. He camped out at the three point line and buried triples. After three years as a key bench performer for Roy Williams, he moved into the starting two guard role as a Senior. He became KU's all time three point king, scored over 1,000 points in his career, and had a career-high 31 against Texas in Austin.
The teams he played on had a ton of NBA talent. Paul Pierce, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard, Raef Lafrentz, and Greg Ostertag were all first round picks. Ryan Robertson was a second rounder. Billy went undrafted. But through hard work, dedication to his craft, and his smooth jump shot, Billy found his way through Europe, and the minor leagues to end up in the NBA. He has spent parts of three seasons in the NBA with Washington and New Jersey. Both organizations have shown love for him and his work ethic.
A couple of years back, the Washington Post's Ivan Carter wrote a great article about his journey. At the time, Wizards guard Antonio Daniels said of Thomas "The thing about Billy is he understands his role. He doesn't try and be someone he's not. He comes in and he knows he's in there to get open and knock shots down. "
I'm so proud of my boy. Props to you Bill for getting back to "The League."
Forward Signed "Off the Street" - NY Post
Journeyman Making Most of Extended Stay - Ivan Carter, Washington Post (June 2006)