Emotional Isaiah Thomas Opens Up on Offseason Blockbuster Trade
It has been a whirlwind of a 2017 for Isaiah Thomas and this past offseason, he learned how cruel the business of sports truly is.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Thomas became one of the most fierce fourth quarter performers in the NBA last season, en route to an All-Star nod and even pushing the Boston Celtics to the one-seed in the Eastern Conference. During the playoffs, not only was Thomas forced to undergo dental surgery in between games, but he was also faced with his sister’s untimely death.
Through it all, teary eyed, heartbroken, Thomas still donned his Celtics green jersey with pride and played through the personal trauma, leading the Boston franchise to the Eastern Conference Finals where the Celtics subsequently fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Later in the summer, Thomas received the shock of his NBA career when he was traded in a package deal to the Cavs for the services of superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.
“Boston is going to be all love,” Thomas told Sports Illustrated. “I might not ever talk to Danny [Ainge] again. That might not happen. I’ll talk to everybody else. But what he did, knowing everything I went through, you don’t do that, bro. That’s not right. I’m not saying eff you. But every team in this situation comes out a year or two later and says, ‘We made a mistake.’ That’s what they’ll say, too.”
Coming off a season in which he averaged 28.7-points and 5.9-assists per game, the 5-9 Thomas skyrocketed into the upper echelon of point guards in the entire league.
“None of it made any sense,” Thomas said, according to SI. “It still doesn’t make any sense. I’m still asking, ‘What the hell happened?’ It’s a trade you make in NBA2K. It’s not a trade you make in real life.”
Loyalty has become somewhat of a mantra all around sports, but simultaneously it is one of the most one-sided and fickle ideologies out there. Players can show loyalty to their team yet general managers make trades all the time, often times trades that are built around the faces of the franchise.
While Reggie Miller rags on Paul George for wanting out of Indiana and Stephen A. Smith talks down Kevin Durant for leaving Oklahoma City, general managers have quietly been making blockbuster trades involving loyal, home-grown talent for decades. It’s how the NBA works, it’s how sports work.
“You know, [trades are] the hard part of the job,” said Ainge to ESPN on Wednesday in response to Thomas’ comments. “I know there is a lot of feelings that go on when these type of things happen. I was a player that was traded twice, so I understand his sentiments, but you guys know how much I love Isaiah. He’s a great kid and I wish him the best.”
Assuming he would be a part of the solution, a part of a team that would go on and take Cleveland down, Thomas heavily recruited free agent Gordon Hayward. Ironically, Hayward was the one to join the Celtics, while Thomas was shoved out the door to be replaced by Irving.
“Boston is going to be good,” Thomas predicted. “They’ve got really good players and a great coach. But it takes more than talent. They lost a lot of heart and soul.”
Now, with the deal done and the 2017-18 regular season set to start in just a few days, Thomas’ focus remains on getting healthy and getting back to the court. Still with a chip on his shoulder, Thomas continues to work towards proving his doubters wrong. But with thoughts of what the Celtics could have become, the star guard remains haunted by the potential that he left behind.
“I felt like I was building my own thing in Boston and we were close,” Thomas told SI. “We were so close! Dang! That’s what hurts. We went from the lottery to the conference finals. We just got Hayward. We were right there.”
It was the best year of his career, yet the worst year of his life, but Thomas’ perseverance and strength can never be questioned. And this is something he will overcome.
“He was a great Celtic,” Ainge said, praising Thomas for his two-plus years in the Boston green and white. “Everybody that watched him play or has been with him in the locker room for the last few years will remember how great he was. He will be a part of Celtic history forever.”
Soon, it will again be I.T. time.