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Thursday, March 31


James Thomas named NBDL ROY

Former Texas forward James "Stone Hands" Thomas was named the National Basketball Development League's 2004-2005 Rookie of the Year. Thomas leads the NBDL in rebounds per game (12.3) and is averaging a double-double for the year.

It's nice to see Thomas finding some professional success. Thomas, not known for his offensive prowess, is an absolute beast on the boards. He's a bit undersized for a forward in the NBA, but he makes up for his lack of size with tremendous hustle and body positioning. His good work in the NBDL has resulted in two 10-day contracts in the NBA so far this year (with Portland and Cleveland) and should eventually get him a spot on someone's bench.

I always got a little nervous when Thomas would get the ball in the post on offense, but for all his weaknesses, he was tremendously fun to watch and truly epitomized all-out effort. Here's to hoping this early professional success translates into a long and healthy career.

I have a good James Thomas story for you guys.

I covered the UT men's basketball team for The Daily Texan during the 2000-01 season, when James was a freshman. He was always a good guy to talk to and was pretty friendly, except he wasn't the sharpest tool in the box, if you know what I mean.

Let me set the story up: On Saturday, Jan. 29, 2001, No. 20 Texas lost to No. 12 Arizona on the road, 80-59, in a game that wasn't that close. Arizona led by as many as 30 in the second half, and that Arizona team went on to reach the NCAA championship.

In my article for the Texan on Monday after that game, we ran the headline: "Desert Stormed" with the subhead: "Arizona handily annihilates cold-shooting Texas."

Texas played a home game against Texas A&M two days later and won easily. After the game, I was waiting in the hallway of the Erwin Center to interview someone when James walked by and made a comment to me about "not doing that again." I had no idea what he was talking about as he walked away into the locker room.

He came back out of the locker room a few minutes later and again told me, "You better not do that again." I was still clueless what he meant. I figured he was giving me a hard time about something, but he wasn't laughing so I was trying hard to figure out what I could have done. He can be rather intimidating up close.

He left again, only to return a final time and ask me, "Hey, you're the dude from the school paper right?"

I thought to myself, "What gave that way, James," but instead just said, "Yeah, what's up?"

He said: "Well don't be writing no more of them titles."

I had no idea what he meant, and the look on my face must have given that way, so James said, "I read your article the other day and you better not write no more titles like that."

It clicked that me might mean the Arizona article, so I said, "Uh, well you guys did lose pretty bad."

James said, "No I mean them titles. At the top, the titles. Don't write no more like that."

It finally occurred to me he meant HEADLINE. To this day, I still don't know what part of the headline he didn't like, but I explained to James that I only wrote the article and someone else usually writes the headlines.

Not surprisingly, this information did not compute to James.

He just stared at me for a few seconds before telling me, "Well don't do that again." He then walked away to go practice his rebounding or something I guess, probably confused about what I just tried to explain.

I learned something that day: for some people, the words headline and title are synonymous.

And for that lesson, I can thank James Thomas.
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