Inside Report: Thomas says family first, basketball later
In a phone interview with Earl K. Sneed, Tim Thomas explains his decision to walk away from the game of basketball to care for his ailing wife.
Basketball is just a game.
Many NBA players lose sight of that during their careers, putting stardom atop their priority list. That's not the case for Tim Thomas, who has decided to walk away from the game to care for his ailing wife (undisclosed illness) and three daughters.
"Playing the game of basketball is what I love to do, but it's really time-consuming," Thomas said. "Being a husband and a father is really my first job. I'm not saying that I'm done, but if this is it for me then so be it."
Thomas leaves the sport after signing with the Mavericks last month as a free agent. He would have tipped off his 14th season in the league with the start of training camp on Sept. 28.
Thomas, who was excused from the Mavericks to care for his wife in January after playing just 18 games, averaged 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 15.8 minutes last season. He wanted to repay the organization for having enough faith in the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder's ability that they brought him back for another season.
With his wife in better health, he signed a one-year contract and was expected to back up Dirk Nowitzki at the power forward position.
"I was eager to get back to Dallas, knowing what I can do and that they have what it takes (to win a championship)...They [the Mavericks] were loyal enough to reach out to me and say that they wanted me back," Thomas said.
Because of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the organization's loyalty to the Thomas family during this tough time, Thomas wanted to make sure that he did not leave the team once again in the middle of the season, should their be a setback in his wife's condition. Instead, he chose to make an exit before the beginning of training camp.
"I wanted to do it before training camp just so both sides didn't have that question mark, 'Is Tim gonna be here or not?' I had recent conversations with Cuban and it was all positive. He told me that he was praying for my family. The same goes for the fans, the coaching staff and my former teammates. I really appreciate it," Thomas explained.
Now he doesn't know if he'll ever play again, but that's not his concern at the moment. When he weighed the risk of leaving his wife and children for long periods of time to the reward of playing basketball, it was a no-brainer decision.
Though he says that his wife's illness has taken a turn for the better, Thomas adds that the constant travel of an 82-game NBA season would make it hard to continue to care for his four ladies -- his top priorities -- back home.
He wants to be at his wife's side every step along the way. When her health is no longer in question, then he'll think about a return to basketball. But he's not second-guessing his decision.
He also adds that speculation that he's retiring is just that, speculation. Thomas says he's not calling it quits, just taking care of his family.
"She's healthy, she's getting better. I don't want people to think that she's on her deathbed," Thomas said. "I just want everybody to know we're doing fine. She's doing better. Who knows, if she gets better then maybe I'll give it another try."
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