– We think of fierce,
historic team rivalries as the breeding ground for
individual sports feuds. But even a weak rivalry
can create enough friction to send two people spiraling
into a war of their own. The Knicks and Nets have
always been neighbors but their conflict has
underperformed its promise. The teams have seldom
been good at the same time and the rare occasions they’ve met in the playoffs haven’t been competitive. But from this underwhelming matchup, a strange and persistent beef emerged. This foul in an otherwise
boring 2004 playoff game sparked beef, not between
these two, but these two. It was a ridiculous beef that produced fallout in the media and in a nightclub. It’s a beef that, in recent years, has wound its way through
podcast appearances and children’s birthday parties and 50 Cent boxing promotions. We need to talk about Kenyon
Martin and Tim Thomas. (dramatic music) Before we arrive here,
let’s get some background. Tim Thomas, from Paterson, New Jersey, was one of the top high school
basketball recruits in 1996. He was a First Team All-American
alongside the likes of Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom
and Jermaine O’Neal. Thomas played one strong
season at Villanova then bucked Wildcat convention by declaring for the NBA draft
after his freshman year. And he was an enticing prospect. Six foot 10 and long limbed, capable of scoring from anywhere and defending multiple positions. Thomas was actually taken
by his hometown Nets with a seventh pick, but got traded to Philadelphia on draft night. He went on to a solid enough NBA career that still kind of disappointed. Ray Allen once said his Bucks teammate could be the best player in
the league if he wanted to but Thomas never fully realized
his all-star potential. Kenyon Martin was part of that
same ’96 recruiting class, but didn’t get nearly as
much recognition as Thomas and ended up at Cincinnati. Unlike Thomas at ‘nova, Martin
stuck around at Cincinnati. The Bearcats were a high-ranked team throughout Martin’s four year career, and might have contended for
the 2000 NCAA championship, if Martin hadn’t broken his
leg late in his senior season. Martin improved a lot in college, building his reputation
as a fiery inside presence who protected the rim on defense, and attacked it on offense. He’d improved so much, in fact, that despite the injury and
despite his relative seniority, the Nets took Martin with the first pick in the 2000 NBA draft. Martin came out strong in New
Jersey and truly blossomed when the Nets brought in
point guard Jason Kidd. Kidd was the superstar leader, Martin was the emotional inside presence, finisher, rebounder, and enforcer, prone to hard fouls and more
than willing to throw hands. Kidd, Martin and the Nets
reached the NBA finals in 2002 and 2003 and in doing so,
crossed paths with Thomas. New Jersey’ ’03 run
included a first round win over the Milwaukee Bucks, who didn’t go down without a fight. Thomas was assigned to guard
Martin for much of the series. He hyped the matchup by claiming he was the more talented player, which got a laugh and a
“Whatever,” from Martin. Both guys played well in the series and both had to be separated when Martin shoved Bucks guard
Sam Cassell in game five. So these two had a bit of
history, even a taste of beef, before things blew up for real in 2004. Thomas got traded that year to the Knicks, a team that won just 39 games but still grabbed the seventh playoff seed in an extremely shallow
Eastern Conference. In the first round, New York faced the second seeded Nets
who swept them with ease. It was a boring series
and a depressing one for Knicks fans growing
accustomed to the doldrums. I actually had tickets to
game four of that series and just didn’t use’em. And you know what, I
stand by that decision. But yeah, late in the Nets
blowout game one victory, Thomas blew by Martin, only to run into a flagrant foul from New
Jersey center Jason Collins. Thomas was pretty shaken up and left the arena on a stretcher. He missed the rest of the series
because of a bruised back. But his mouth was still healthy. When he got out of the hospital, Thomas told reporters he hoped to return to the doomed series simply
so he could hit somebody. When, I guess, a reporter said an enforcer like Martin might not take kindly to people getting hit, Thomas responded. – Well the simple fact that he’s fugazi. I mean, you know, all
the fake, tough guy role. I hate it, I just think
he’s fugazi, all around. – [Host] Fugazi. To emphasize that Kenyon
was a fake tough guy, Tim borrowed slang straight
out of The Sopranos or that scene in “Donnie
Brasco” where Al Pacino and Johnny Depp are looking
at some fake diamonds. – This is fugazi? How do you know it’s a fugazi? You looked at it for two seconds. – It’s a fake. – Yeah, I know what a fugazi is. – [Host] In response, Martin pulled an, I know you are but what am I? He mentioned that Thomas had asked to play him in a celebrity game before, and called Thomas a
“career underachiever.” Martin deemed it hilarious, that Thomas was spending so much
time thinking about him. He then took the back page
of The Daily News issue featuring Thomas’s quotes, and taped it to his practice jersey, an invention Martin liked so much that he had it printed it
into an actual t-shirt. And if it ever came to a fight,
Martin liked his chances. Thomas never really got to respond. He didn’t return to the court
for the rest of the series while Martin helped carry New
Jersey to three more wins. K-Mart got the sweep and the last word. And the on court feud wouldn’t
carry over to off season. In October, Thomas said he’d seen Martin a few times during the summer and if they were gonna
fight, he’d rather do it in the ring than on the court. Martin had joined Denver over the summer, and when the Nuggets played the Knicks, nothing happened between the two. Thomas promised his family
he wouldn’t do anything. Martin said he was a grown man and didn’t have time to continue the beef. And they crossed paths throughout the rest of their
careers without incident. Thomas played his final season
in 2010, Martin in 2015. The beef seemed to have faded. But then, a recently retired Martin went on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast and Woj got him talking about Thomas and remember that Thomas quote, about him and Martin running into each other in the summer of ’04? Well, Kenyon went into
some detail about that. – [Adrian] Where d’you see him? – [Kenyon] He come to a club in Dallas. People I’m with, my friends,
know of the situation so word get out around the club, who he is and what’s going on. So the DJ played every possible song to get people going. It’s about to get ugly, so the lady that was hosting the club,
the party that night, she goes to him and tell him, listen, I need you to leave. He tried to go out the front, she said, no no no no no, she took him
down the service elevator. – [Host] So to recap, Martin’s
version of the ’04 meeting, Tim showed up at a club in Dallas, Kenyon rallied his
friends and acquaintances to make clear Tim wasn’t welcome, then the host of the event stepped in and escorted Tim out of back door before any violence could erupt. But Martin suggested, just like he did when the beef started, that he’d win any fight between the two of them. – [Kenyon] So I told’em, you lock me and him in a room together,
see who comes out. – [Host] Thomas heard this
podcast episode and responded in a media appearance of
his own on Scoop B Radio. He says he first confronted Martin at a night club in New York. – [Tim] I was tempting him to at least attempt to fight me, by mushing him in his face. He just backed up against the wall, he wanted no parts of me. – [Host] Then they met in Dallas, where Thomas vaguely
suggested that his friends were ready for something
scary if it came to that. – [Tim] What the problem is, and I’m not here to promote any violence, the problem is, when you fly private, you
could take anything you want. So street terms, you know
exactly what that means. – [Host] And Thomas disputed
Martin’s telling of his exit. – [Tim] We left the club,
because once again, I’m out there doing a charity event. – [Host] But then they
ran into each other again, at the same club, and Thomas says he slapped Martin in the
face with a stack of cash. He even remembers how much cash. – [Tim] So I took $1,500 and
slapped him in the face with it and he literally did nothing. – [Host] Thomas goes on
to express disappointment that Martin started talking, since the two of them live in
the same neighborhood in Los Angeles and see each other plenty. – [Tim] We actually live in the same neighborhood in California. We have mutual friends. For me, I mean, he has
kids, and we’re both grown. There’s no need to go in that direction. – [Host] Martin’s son photographed them together at the grocery store and the two of them even talked out a truce of sorts at the
home of a mutual friend. – [Tim] A friend my mine,
my young guy, Al Harrington, his little daughter had a birthday party. Me and Kenyon actually squashed everything at Al Harrington’s kid’s. – [Host] Al Harrington’s
daughter’s birthday party is truly the ideal place
for this beef to end. But if you listen to
those media appearances, I think you’ll agree that
this beef did not end. A lot of insults went back and forth and Thomas reiterated his decade-old challenge to a boxing match. – [Tim] Let’s get in the ring, so the world can see me beat up on you. – [Host] None other than 50 Cent caught wind of that challenge, and began to promote it as an undercard to a Chris Brown Soulja Boy fight. – So in the NBA, we got Tim
Thomas and Kenyon Martin. They got an old beef they wanna settle. – [Host] For better or worse, Martin, now part of the big three league, refused the bout, saying
he was a grown man, unwilling to participate in a circus. And that is where things stand. Tim Thomas and Kenyon Martin
had an exciting playoff battle and then a pretty unexciting one that generated a supremely
stupid war of words, which in turn sparked a tense summer. Things went dormant for a while, but the beef has reentered the spotlight somewhat in recent years, with
decade-old details emerging and all kinds of strange
characters involved. Maybe things will remain
quietly tense forever. Maybe Thomas and Martin will finally have that boxing match someday. Maybe they can just squash the
whole thing and be friends. They’re neighbors, after all, and kids’ birthday parties
are gonna be way more fun if everyone can just get along.

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Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “Kenyon Martin’s beef with Tim Thomas includes 50 Cent, cash-slapping, and a kid’s birthday party”

  1. As far as a player skill set Thomas was the better perimeter threat and wing defender but Martin was better in the paint on both sides of the ball . From the beef aspect this is nothing more than diet artificial pretenda thug beef lol !!!!!

  2. This was real af…guns n all….i was partying heavy around that time…the clubs wouldnt let each of them in if the other was present…bodyguards n all…tim had a kung fu master with him as a bodyguard at 50 party facts…04

  3. Kenyon Martin was a physically dominate player, Tim Thomas was highly skilled finesse forward. I don't believe for one second Thomas coulda whipped Kenyon Martin

  4. I played Ball against K. Martin he bout everything he says!! And imma Tim Thomas fan Also.. K. Martin & Michael Jacks bad due coming out the D.

  5. Sick of these pro athletes thinking they gangster, y'all nigguhs blessed, walking around like yall can rumble neither one of them chumps can fight, both hiding behind their payed posse

  6. I know there not big names but it would be cool if you could go over the Matt Lagos vs Cincinnati Reds Beef

  7. this is sad… im surprised anyone would even know tim thomas lol i mean he was decent… but kenyon a legend… or at least way more recognized accomplished!

  8. Seth Rosenberg is the only guy I listen to his voice is more compatible to my 👂 then the rest! 🤷🏽‍♂️ when he speaks its like I’m listening to a story! this guy could have his own documentary shows on any sports network

  9. It seems like K-Mart has spent his entire life trying to convince people he's a tough guy. Remember when he made the Knicks where all black to the Celtics playoff game in 2013? Or when he got racial with Lin (who owned him), and then bringing up an old feud on Woj's podcast after the beef was already squashed.

  10. Dear SB Nation, you should do one for Michael Jordan and Jeff Van Gundy. When he called him a con man haha.

  11. Can we please get a MJ/Pippen and Isaiah Thomas beef? If not MJ you gotta so Pippen and Isaiah as they are beefing to this day as old men lol

  12. I love how you guys tackle beefs that have evolved past blatant clashes and into socially awkward "will they, won't they?" type tension. Could you do one on a more obvious clash such as Robin Lopez's beef with mascots. (And possibly how he deals against his own team's mascot?)

  13. Nah, Tim Thomas could’ve been THAT guy. Shuttlesworth knows what he’s talking about. We not just gonna let that fly

  14. Anyone else having a hard time believing that he bought tickets for a playoff game (a lot more expensive than reg season) and then went "ehh, nvm"?

  15. "I had tickets to Game 4 but just didnt end up using them… and I stand by that decision." Lmao… Ahh the depression of being a Knicks fan. I know it all too well.

  16. As a person from paterson, New Jersey, it’s crazy to think about that I walked the same streets as people like Tim and fetty wap

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