But now he's headed to South Beach, and not as a coach for the Miami Heat.
Thomas has been hired as head coach of the FIU men's basketball team, the team announced today.
U.S. & World
"We are very excited to have such a legendary athlete and proven winner in Isiah Thomas to lead our men's basketball program," FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said. "There is no doubt that Isiah will give FIU a tremendous opportunity to take the basketball program to the highest level."
The Golden Panthers fired coach Sergio Rouco on Monday, clearing the way for Zeke, who has expressed a passion for coaching even after getting the boot from the Knicks.
"I think we can get good players from across Florida and around the country to buy into our plan to make this a top-tier basketball program," Thomas said in a statement released by the school. "I'm committed to growing something here, and strongly believe that over time, we'll put a team on the floor that everyone at FIU can be proud of."
Despite his lofty credentials, the pick is at the very least controversial.
Some would say Thomas should be exiled from coaching impressionable young men and banned from a college campus after 2006 allegations he sexually harassed a female Madison Square Garden employee.
The organization was forced to pay the woman $11.6 million
Thomas also has no collegiate coaching experience, but he clearly knows basketball. He led the Detroit Pistons to two NBA championship in the '90s.
As a coach, Thomas led the Pacers to the playoffs several times in his first NBA coaching job before going to the Knicks, where he stock piled over-priced talent and tanked.
There would be no such luxury at FIU, where the team hasn't had a winning season in a decade.
"This is bigger than basketball and bigger than athletics," said FIU president Modesto A. Maidique. "Having a nationally-recognized coach like Isiah at FIU will have a positive impact on our university as a whole, helping us achieve additional national exposure."
And why would Thomas want to go from NBA to FIU?
"Coming back to the college game has always been a dream of mine, and I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to go somewhere where we can build a basketball legacy together," Thomas said.