Isaiah Thomas asked the Celtics not to show a tribute video for him Wednesday, when he visited Boston with the Cavaliers for the first time. Thomas, who starred for the Celtics the last couple seasons, wanted to wait until a game he was playing and with his family in attendance.
Fair enough. Except the only other time the Cavs play in Boston this season is Feb. 11, when the Celtics will retire Paul Pierce’s number.
Pierce said he didn’t want to share his spotlight with Thomas, which was also fair. Though Pierce’s main ceremony is for after the game, teams frequently show highlights of and tributes to a player getting his number retired during stoppages. Using one for a Thomas video is one less opportunity to celebrate Pierce.
Thomas, via NBC Sports Boston:
That’s Pierce’s night. But the video tribute ain’t the whole night. I just wanted my family to be here to see it. That’s what it came down to. I wanted to be able to play. And I wanted my family to experience the love and appreciation this city and this organization was going to give me on that night. And when my representatives reached out to these guys, they were all for it. They agreed on it. I know people. I don’t know why they’re so mad about it. I’m not taking nothing from Paul Pierce. He did 15 years here, so there’s nothing that I can take from him. But if they choose to do it that night, that would be great, and I would be honored, and my family and friends can see how much they appreciated me here.”
The Celtics should have handled this behind the scenes (and perhaps they tried). Tell Thomas Feb. 11 was already filled with Pierce tributes, and maybe Thomas would have relented on showing his video a couple days ago. Ask Pierce beforehand about briefly sharing his night with Thomas, and maybe Pierce would have begrudgingly agreed.
Instead, two former Boston stars are engaged in this public back-and-forth over a relatively inconsequential – but quite sentimental – matter. It’s not a good look for anyone involved.