BOSTON (AP) Isaiah Thomas didn’t come into the NBA with elevated hype.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the first player 5-foot-9 or smaller to earn an All-Star selection since 1979 doesn’t mind keeping a low profile.
The Celtics point guard says it’s just the first of many goals he has set for himself.
“I’ve just been trying to enjoy it. Enjoy the moment,” Thomas said the day after becoming Boston’s first All-Star selection since Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo during the 2012-13 season. “It really hasn’t hit me yet. But it’s an enjoyable moment.”
Thomas is averaging a career-high 21.6 points and 6.6 assists per game in his fifth season. He’s also the unabashed leader of a Celtics team that came into a Friday night matchup with Orlando 26-21 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
The last 5-9 All-Star was Calvin Murphy with Houston in 1979.
Just five years removed from being the final pick of the 2011 draft by Sacramento, the 26-year-old has quickly carved out a home in Boston since he was dealt here from Phoenix in a three-team trade last February.
Part of the credit, Thomas said, belongs with Boston coach Brad Stevens, who has allowed Thomas to play freely in an offense that showcases his skillset.
“Isaiah’s a guy that works really hard, he’s got a great, contagious personality. People like being around him, so people will root for people like that,” Stevens said. “And then I think they’re also drawn to the underdog. The guy that was the 60th pick in the draft, that’s under six feet, that plays with a chip on his shoulder.
“But all that said, he earned it by being one of the guys that’s played at that level thus far.”
Denver coach Michael Malone coached Thomas in Sacramento and said he isn’t at all surprised to see how far Thomas has come in a short time.
“Isaiah is a guy I didn’t want to lose while I was in (Sacramento) in our second season,” Malone said. “He’s got a chip on his shoulder. … He’s got the `keep on doubting me’ attitude.”
Thomas thanked his teammates in a Twitter post Thursday night after his selection. Stevens said Thomas never spoke a word about his honor to him on Friday, which speaks to where his mindset is.
“He’s got a drive that very few people have,” Stevens said. “I don’t see him being satisfied by much.”
For his part, Thomas is already thinking about the next step for both him and his team.
“I asked myself, `What can they say now?’ But, they’ll find something,” Thomas said. “If they talk bad about Kobe and those type guys of guys, I’m not close as good as them. So they’ll find something. But it’s not about them right now.
“I’m just enjoying the moment … and excited about just looking forward to the end of this season and going as far as possible.”
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower