For Isiah, the end appears near

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Isiah Thomas walked to the podium with such a weary hop to his step, he looked like Eddy Curry going for a rebound.

Or like Jerome James walking to the vegetable stand. Or Nate Robinson stepping into a Big and Tall store. Or Quentin Richardson dropping by a Brandy concert. Or Jalen Rose checking into an Overearners Anonymous meeting.

No, Isiah didn't look all that comfortable or confident standing all alone at the podium Monday, top Madison Square Garden honchos nowhere in sight but P.R. functionaries and other upholders of Cablevision media policy showing up in abundance, monitoring player interviews and keeping their eagle eyes affixed on Thomas as he rehashed the lines he used over the summer, including the one about how growing up as a youngster in Chicago was a life-and-death struggle every day, which makes the pressure he's under now pale by comparison.

I, for one, don't buy it. This is it for Isiah, his one last chance, and he knows it.