Isaiah Thomas was one of the best players in the NBA during the 2016-17 campaign.
And according to him, the league is lucky he isn’t taller than his listed 5’9″—if he were eight inches closer to the sky, he thinks he’d be the best basketball player in the world.
“If I were taller, the season I had would be getting even more attention. For sure,” Thomas wrote for ESPN The Magazine‘s yearly body issue. “There’s no doubt about that. People always try to find something that I don’t do well, or that the small guy doesn’t do well, and put it against him. For instance, when you’re smaller they always say you’re a defensive liability. If somebody scores on a 6-5 guy, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s good offense.’ If somebody scores on a 5-9 guy, it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s a liability; he’s too small.’ It’s always something.
“If I were 6-3 or 6-5, I’d be the best player in the world. No doubt about it. And that’s not just me thinking that; I mean, the world would think that.”
Thomas said he’s learned from picking the ears of the vertically challenged ballers that came before him, speaking with guys like Gary Payton, Muggsy Bogues, Nate Robinson, and Damon Stoudamire.
He’s also been inspired by Allen Iverson.
“Allen Iverson was also somebody I felt like I could relate to because he was smaller, and he’s pound for pound the best to ever play, arguably — somebody who changed the game of basketball just by being who he was. I can relate to that,” Thomas wrote. “There was always a doubt in other people’s minds: They didn’t feel like I could do it, they felt like I was too small, they felt like I wasn’t a typical point guard. And now, I just laugh at those people. I just make them eat their words. And if people don’t believe in me, I make them believers.”