The 21 Greatest NBA stars that played for a single team

Dirk Nowitzki NBA, Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Dirk Nowitzki NBA, Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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NBA stars that played for one team #14: Isiah Thomas

NBA legend Isiah Thomas’ reputation may have dropped since retiring nearly 30 years ago. Even still, his career achievements are hard to ignore. Thomas was the best player on the Bad Boy Pistons, the aforementioned Detroit team that controlled the Eastern Conference in the post-Bird-Celtics, pre-Jordan dominance era.

Considering that the NBA was often dominated by big men, having the best player on the best team be only 6’1 is a testament to how good he was. In addition to being a highly skilled scorer, Thomas was a terrific passer and standout defender. He led the NBA in assists twice, including averaging 13.9 assists in 1984–85.

In the playoffs, he was even better. He led the Pistons to five straight Conference Finals and three NBA Finals. When he clashed with Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers in Game 6 of the 1988 NBA Finals, Thomas famously scored 25 fourth-quarter points despite having a badly sprained ankle.

Still, the Pistons would lose to Los Angeles in 7. The following year, Thomas led the Pistons back to the NBA Finals, where he and Detroit beat the Lakers, ending their dynasty. He would then follow that up with another Finals appearance and championship in 1988–89.

Thomas’ career ultimately came to an early end at the age of 32 due to an ACL tear, but he is widely regarded as one of the greatest point guards ever. He is also one of only a few point guards to ever lead a team to a championship, let alone two, and he did it all with the Pistons.