The Detroit Pistons' Isiah Thomas angrily denied reports yesterday that he ran high-stakes dice games in his home and has been the target of a federal gambling investigation.

Thomas, who was named the most valuable player in the recently completed NBA Finals, met with reporters following news reports he was a target in a probe by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.

"I'm mad and I'm angry," Thomas told the Associated Press in one of a series of interviews with local reporters at his lawyers' offices in Detroit. "I don't even know how this happened. I think {Detroit fans} all know the kind of person I am. No one has given me anything in this world. Everything I've gotten out of this world I've worked for."

Thomas acknowledged he has made small, casual bets, such as whether he could sink a long basketball shot. His lawyers said in a statement released late yesterday afternoon that, during his nine years in Detroit, he "on three or four social occasions has been involved in impromptu dice games."

But, the statement continued: "In none of these games would his wagers be considered 'high stakes.' He has never been involved in any way with basketball wagering, or any other form of illegal sports gambling."

"I don't believe you should gamble. I think gambling is one of the stupidest things you can do. You always lose," said Thomas, who was accompanied by his lawyers, accountant and Pistons officials.

Earlier, he met for about two hours with FBI agents at his lawyers' offices to explain his relationship with other alleged targets of the probe.

"The whole meeting today was, 'We're sorry we are here,' " Thomas said of the FBI agents. "They informed me that I wasn't a target of their investigation and the only reason they were talking to me was because this story broke."

Sources told WJBK-TV in a report Friday and the Detroit Free Press and Oakland (Mich.) Press in stories published yesterday that a grand jury had subpoenaed checks totaling at least $100,000 that Thomas cashed at a grocery store owned by a neighbor and friend, Imad Denha.

Both Thomas and Denha ran craps games with thousands of dollars at stake at unspecified times at their homes in Oakland County's West Bloomfield Township, the sources said.

Asked about that allegation, Thomas shook his head, muttered a four-letter expletive, and said, "No . . . I can count on one hand the number of people that have been in my home."

Authorities have linked Denha to Henry Allen Hilf, the central figure in the gambling investigation, the sources said. Federal authorities consider Hilf to be Michigan's biggest bookmaker, and Denha is a suspected money launderer, they said.