Interview with Billy Thomas of the Cleveland Cavaliers
by: Richard Walker
February 23, 2008

After going undrafted out of Kansas in 1998, Billy Thomas bounced around Europe and the minor leagues before being signed to two ten-day contracts by the New Jersey Nets and then eventually for the remained of the í04-í05 season. He spent some more time in the minor leagues and eventually got another call-up by the Washington Wizards. Earlier this season, while playing for the Colorado 14ers of the NBA Development League, Thomas was averaging just under 16 points a game when he was called-up again by the Nets before being released and returning to the 14ers. Yesterday, a week after playing the D-League All-Star game, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave him a call-up along with teammate Kaniel Dickens. I spoke with Billy just after that All-Star game about his journey around the minor leagues and his time in Europe.

Richard Walker: You were born in Shreveport [Louisiana], so is this like a homecoming of sorts?

Billy Thomas: Itís always good to be back. Even if itís not your own town itís your own state.

Richard Walker: Congrats on being an All-Star. How do you feel about this whole thing?

Billy Thomas: Very privileged. Knowing how fortunate I am to still be playing basketball, and playing basketball for a living, and to still be considered one of the best players in the league.

Richard Walker: Youíve played in quite a few minor leagues Ė USBL, IBL Ė how does this one compare to those other leagues?

Billy Thomas: Because itís tied directly to the NBA itís the ultimate, if you will, in minor league basketball. It gives you great exposure. Iíve been called up a couple of times and it gives you the confidence to know youíre one step away.

Richard Walker: You just touched on it, but you have a history with the [New Jersey] Nets that allowed you to get called up earlier this season. How did that work?

Billy Thomas: Itís being prepared when youíre number is called, and thatís what being a professional is about whether youíre here or up there. I was just fortunate enough to be ready and to get another opportunity to be in the NBA.

Richard Walker: Youíve been called up by both the [Washington] Wizards and the Nets. That pretty much puts you on the fast track to another one. Have you been hearing anything about if thatís a realistic scenario?

Billy Thomas: It is. Itís a realistic scenario for anybody who played in this game today. For me individually itís just about: keep working, keep doing the things I do, keep doing the things Iíve been blessed to do. You never know, man, but thatís the reason we play. That one day waking up where a team needs your services.

Richard Walker: It seems like you have a pretty good idea of what it takes, but is there something specific youíre working on?

Billy Thomas: Everything that incorporates being a basketball player at my position. Youíve got to defend, youíve got be able to make shots, youíve got to show that you know how to play basketball. Your basketball IQ is important, and thatís what I try to pass on to some of the other guys; that itís not all about trying to come out and score 20 points every night, itís about showing you know how to play.

Richard Walker: Do you mind if I ask you what happened in Europe [with Crvena Zvezda]?

Billy Thomas: It was just a situation where I wasnít happy with the European club so I decided not to go back. They werenít paying me on time, and all sorts of things like that, so I left.

Richard Walker: Right, that can happen with some of those European clubs.

Billy Thomas: Yeah, so what they wanted to do was get back at me, and so they kind of railroaded me. Itís a Serbian team and itís mostly Serbians running the FIBA organization and it was a situation where they said I couldnít play this season. Iíll try again next season. If the NBA doesnít work out then Iíll be there.

Richard Walker: So itís only for this season [that youíre ineligible to play]?

Billy Thomas: Yeah, itís through April of this season.

Richard Walker: Nice. Are you hearing any rumors backstage about people getting called up?

Billy Thomas: Not sure man, but if there was I wish that rumor was about me!

Richard Walker: I wish it was about you too!

Billy Thomas: I appreciate it.

Richard Walker: Thanks a lot.

Billy Thomas: No problem.

Richard Walker: Take care.

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Billy Thomas
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 208 lbs.
Birthday: 12/23/1975
41 Years Old
High School: Loyola College Prep
Previous Team: Kansas , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Current: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
7.9 Pts, 2.8 Rebs, 1.9 Asts

Kaniel Dickens
Full Profile | Player Stats
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 215 lbs.
Birthday: 07/21/1978
38 Years Old
High School: Denver East
Previous Team: Idaho , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #21 in 2000 Draft
by the Jazz
Current: F,
Possible: F
Quick Stats:
15.0 Pts, 2.0 Rebs, 0.0 Asts