Thomas Missed Free Throw Turns Into Free Fries

February 15, 2013

It was Valentine’s Day, and Lance Thomas wanted to apologize.

With 11 seconds remaining in a home game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 13, Thomas had a chance to push the New Orleans Hornets over the 100-point mark by sinking two free throws. Of great importance to many in attendance, when the Hornets reach the century mark, all fans win free French fries from local McDonald’s restaurants.

Unfortunately for the home crowd, the 78 percent career foul shooter misfired on his first attempt, making it virtually impossible for the Hornets to crack 100. Instead, the Hornets “settled” for a 99-63 runaway victory. As Thomas and his teammates headed to the locker room Wednesday, some New Orleans Arena spectators good-naturedly booed. The 6-foot-8 power forward almost immediately knew how he would make it up to fans.

“I’m not worried about that,” the Duke University product matter-of-factly said of the booing. “I’m just going to have to man up and buy them all fries.”

Twenty-four hours later on Feb. 14, Thomas did exactly that, at the McDonald’s restaurant on Canal Street. Despite it being dinnertime on Valentine’s Day, a few dozen fans – some of whom brought their Wednesday game ticket or the Blazers-Hornets GameTime program with them – were treated by Thomas to complimentary fries.

“When I missed the first free throw, I was like, why am I getting booed right now?” Thomas said. “We were up by 30-something. Then I looked up and I realized we had 98 (points). As soon as I walked into the locker room, I was like, I’ve got to step my game up (and spring for the fries).”

When Thomas checked his cell phone, there were numerous Twitter messages from apparently-hungry fans.

“My phone was blowing up,” Thomas related with a grin. “They were saying things like, ‘We want our fries! You should’ve made your free throws!’ ”

Thomas, one of the New Orleans players who planned to stay in the city during NBA All-Star weekend, tweeted that he’d be buying fries from 7 to 8 p.m. on Valentine’s Day for fans who attended Wednesday’s Western Conference matchup.

“Our fans have been there for us through some tough times,” the second-year Hornet explained, as McDonald’s guests continued to approach him for fries and photos. “I wanted to keep the fans happy. They support us, so I was more than happy to do this. Why not get a chance to interact with the fans? It’s been a lot of fun.”