Hornets fisherman/forward Lance Thomas dishes on the new season.
by Toney Blare
Every team requires players to fill different roles: scorer, energizing glue guy, bench-stapled hype man, defensive specialist. Second-year Hornets forward Lance Thomas continues to work on establishing his on-court identity, but off the court, the Duke alum holds down a unique spot: squad fishing guide.
As an NBA TV film crew stands with boom mikes dangling over the training room door, waiting for No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis to emerge and discuss his League debut tonight, Thomas and I spoke about angling in the state known as “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
“I’ve been to Lake Borgne, Delacroix, the Rigolets, Fourchon,” says the New Jersey native, rattling off several local spots and pronouncing them like a South Louisianan. Lake Borgne (pronounced born)is the smaller neighbor of Lake Ponchatrain; Delcroix (del-a-craw) is an island in the wetlands of St. Bernard Parish; the Rigolets is a pass between the two lakes; and Fourchon (for-shawn) is better known as Port Fourchon, the southern most tip of the state. Thomas has led trips with several teammates.
“I went with Anthony Davis, Austin (Rivers), Carl Landry from last year, Jason (Smith). We go when we can. Robin (Lopez) is the only one on the team who enjoys it like I do,” Thomas says. He laughs when I say they must need a really big boat, but Thomas sees the sport as a necessary break from the grind.
“The season’s so long, you need to have something that calms you and relaxes you, takes you away from the game while you’re doing it. That’s fishing. I get a peace of mind, put my feet up, come back to the gym and it’s game day,” he says.
In yesterday evening’s opener, a 99-95 loss to the Spurs, Thomas never got off the bench, observing as Davis plays a strong first game (21 points, 7 boards), Rivers struggles mightily (1-9 for 7 points and more than a few awkward mistakes) and Eric Gordon sits out with a mysterious knee ailment. The fevered effort of the younger team (the Bees’ average age is 23) should be a constant this year.
“I want to win,” Thomas says. “I want to make sure that not only myself, but the group that we put on the floor plays hard. I feel like that’s something we’re known for. Our record didn’t reflect how we wanted the season to be, but there was no doubt from any team that we played against that we played hard. I want that to be our identity.”
Growing up a Kevin Garnett fan (try to imagine KG in a canoe!), Thomas wants to play a part in forging that identity.
“For myself, I want to make sure I’m ready to defend anyone on the floor, knock down the open shot when it’s there, bring energy. I embrace stuff like that,” Thomas says. “Most guys don’t like to be thought of as a defensive player, the intangibles, but that’s something that’s got me to this level.”