Former Wizards center Etan Thomas joined the Bleav in Wizards podcast this week to talk about his new book Police Brutality and White Supremacy: The Fight Against American Traditions.
The book is filled with thought-provoking interviews and commentary on police brutality, white supremacy, and the lack of racial equality in the United States. Thomas interviewed victims of police brutality and their family members to convey what they actually went through and allow them to share what they experienced directly. To be fully transparent, I was not aware of several of these stories and may never have been if it weren’t for this book.
To help make these issues more relatable, Thomas also interviewed high-profile athletes like Stephen Curry and Isiah Thomas. Craig Hodges and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf spoke about being black-listed for standing up for their beliefs.
Thomas also had Sue Bird, Kyle Korver, Rex Chapman, and Breanna Stewart talk about their experiences as teammates of African American athletes and what they can do to be better allies. For readers, hearing these stories may be more easily digested if they hear it from someone who looks like them. For me, Korver’s section was fascinating because he framed it in a way that I could personally relate to.
In addition to the book, Thomas also spoke to me about this year’s Wizards team and their moves at the trade deadline. Despite being a fan of Montrezl Harrell, and seeing similarities between their playing styles, Thomas seemed to have an overall positive reaction to the Wizards’ deals.
He liked the leadership Ish Smith could bring and the talent of Kristaps Porzingis. Assuming he can stay healthy, Thomas is looking forward to seeing a trio of Porzingis, Bradly Beal, and Kyle Kuzma next season.
As a physical center who always played with effort, I wanted to get Thomas’ thoughts on Thomas Bryant and Daniel Gafford. I asked how much improvement is reasonable to expect from Bryant on the defensive end. Thomas believes that players have different strengths and it’s more important to focus on what players do well and not dwell on what they don’t do.
I also asked him about Daniel Gafford’s penchant for collecting early fouls and Thomas believes that defensive scheme can also be a factor in that. He talked about how going from Doug Collins to Eddie Jordan, their defensive schemes were so drastically different and playing in Jordan’s system led to him picking up more fouls. So perhaps there’s something Wes Unseld Jr. could be doing schematically to help Gafford stay on the court without sacrificing much of what they want to do defensively.
Thomas also offered his perspective on locker room chemistry, whether teammates have to hang out to be successful, Beal’s future with the organization, and whether tanking is worth it or not. For more on these topics, please check out the entire episode!