Isaiah Thomas loved being a Boston Celtic — and the fans loved him. Boston is where he rose up to be an All-NBA player mentioned in MVP voting (he finished fifth). Boston is where he played in a playoff game just a day after the death of his sister. Thomas has long played with a chip on his shoulder, and his emotions on his sleeve (well, when the Celtics wore sleeved jerseys) and the fans of Boston loved and appreciated that.
Thomas did not see the trade to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving deal coming.
It’s been hard for him to deal with, according to the other Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Fame point guard who is friends with the current Thomas. Here is what the elder Thomas said at the MMA Hour in Las Vegas Friday (is anyone not in Vegas for the fight?), via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
“From a basketball standpoint, he and Kyrie Irving, this will be great for both of them,” Isiah Thomas said. “Both will do well. But it really was like a punch in the gut because it came out of nowhere. Kyrie was expecting a trade, he was prepared for it. And talking to Isaiah the other night, now he’s scrambling, trying to find out where his kids are going to go to school, trying to find a place to live. And it was just so unexpected for him….
“He said he gave his heart and soul to the Celtics,” Isiah Thomas said. “He gave them everything. It’s a business and we all understand that it’s a business, but to have it happen in such a way for him. I think it really hurt him. I think it’s going to be difficult for him to trust again, to give that trust, that loyalty, that love to another organization.
“And I definitely think the Cavs are going to have to do some relationship mending to get him back to the point where he loves being where he’s at. Because he’s a small guy and the thing that gets him over is his love and his passion. And if those things are kind of missing a little bit, it’s going to be hard.”
In the immediate wake of that trade, it’s understandable that IT feels emotionally wounded. He could not have played better or harder for that franchise, and it pushed him aside anyway (at least from his perspective). Intellectually he knows it’s a business, but the trade still stings. And it throws his life into turmoil, moving his family right as school starts.
What will get him over that? Winning. Playing with LeBron James. Thomas will get into training camp and realize he is on the best team in the East with the chance to increase his brand and worth heading into a contract year, and he will be a buzzsaw. Also, expect him to put up big numbers opening night against Boston (if he’s healthy and plays).