January 26, 2007

My Evening with Isiah

It has been very hard for me to comprehend the bizarre events of December 22, 2006. On that day, I was invited to Isiah Thomas’ childhood home in Chicago for an evening of board games and pizza. The following is a retelling of that night’s events.

The setup was innocent enough. I arrived at Isiah’s boyhood home at about 6:30 after my day at work. As I looked around at the pictures of Isiah’s high school days at St. Joe’s I started to wonder how this legendarily talented player would eventually turn in to one of the most maligned executives in basketball history.

Suddenly, Isiah appeared from a room at the back of the house with a slightly confused look on his face. I asked him what was wrong.

“Oh nothing,” he responded. “It’s just that if I don’t get tonight right, I’m going to be kicked out of this house.”

I was incredulous. “Why would they kick you out? You made this house famous. You being here got people talking about the neighborhood again.”

Dejected, Isiah said, “I think that’s the problem.”

Quickly he suggested that we order a pizza. Just as quickly, I agreed but to make him feel better I encouraged him to make the choice. “Hamburger and bacon it is then!” he said. I was shocked. How could he make such a perfect pizza choice just moments after meeting me. I told him this.

“You’re surprised? Everyone knows I make solid picks.”

With the pizza ordered, Isiah and I finally sat down for the real reason I was there – to play some board games. Returning the favor, Isiah allowed me to pick which game to play. Without hesitation I chose Monopoly. I figure, what better way to see how this guy handles his money? Isiah liked my choice, but insisted on being the banker. So it began…

-Fast forward to 9:00-

We’re now about 2 hours in to the game, and I’m perturbed. It seems like Isiah keeps getting money from out of nowhere and there is still no pizza. I ask, “Zeke. What’s the deal? Where is the pizza?”

“Well Trey,” he started, “this pizza place is known to take a little bit longer, but if they get here it’ll be awesome.”

If they get here?” I said.

“Yeah. If. This pizza guy isn’t usually on time, but when he shows up, you’ll see.”

Uh oh. I guess this sort of explains some things. I mean, if Isiah can mess up a transaction as easy as a pizza order I can see how his personnel choices could be a bit off. I’m feeling proud of myself that I got Park Place when Isiah already had Boardwalk as I roll the dice. Double 1’s, how ironic. Unfortunately for me, that means I land on his hotel on St. James Place. I decide to mess with him.

“Hey Isiah,” I say, “how about instead of me paying for landing on your hotel, I give you Mediterranean and the two utilities.” Then I laughed so he’d know I was joking.

“No way. I’ll give you a free pass anytime you land on one of my hotels, and Boardwalk. But you have to throw in Reading Railroad too, that way I’ll have three of four.” Clearly, he didn’t know I was joking.

“That’s fine with me,” I said with a snicker.

It’s now 10:30 and there is still no sign of pizza. Whatever. Isiah had some biscotti out anyways so I was doing okay. The bank, however, was not. Somehow, our Monopoly bank had gone bankrupt. I repeat, OUR MONOPOLY BANK WAS BANKRUPT.

“Isiah! How did this happen?!? The band SHOULD NOT go bankrupt IN MONOPOLY!”

“I’m sorry. I took out some loans, but then since I landed on your Boardwalk I couldn’t pay them back. I’m really sorry.”

Ding, dong

Saved by the bell! Finally the pizza had arrived and just when I was getting really frustrated with Isiah. Isiah insisted that it was his treat, so he went to the door.

“That’ll be 34.74, sir,” said the pizza guy. (I think, “That sure is an expensive pizza.)

Isiah reaches for his wallet and pulls out two crisp $100 bills, which he hands to the pizza guy.

“Keep the change.”

The look on the pizza guy’s face had to have been just as shocked as the one on mine. As Isiah walked towards back with the pizza (and a satisfied look on his face) I couldn’t help asking.

“Why did you tip six times as much as the pizza cost?”

“Well Trey, as I told you, this pizza could be totally delicious. And it did eventually get here.”

“You’re right. It could be delicious, but it still took four hours for them to deliver it.”

“Oh...you’re right, that’s too long.” Isiah said, ashamedly. “Should I order another?”

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