I don't understand Isaiah Thomas because it is impossible for me to walk in his shoes. Like, literally, my feet would be too big. The last time I was 5'9" would have been in elementary school. I was always one of the tallest guys in my grade. When I first started playing, I quickly realized that if I just stood under the basket and put my arms up, I'd get rebounds and more chances to shoot. In high school I could look across the hall over a sea of heads and say hi to the other guy on our basketball team that played center.
So yeah, I've never had short-people problems. I've seldom been picked last in pickup games. I started games my senior year despite not being very good (I was the designated tipper, came out as soon as I made a mistake, which was pretty quick). I never really had to work all that hard to be good enough to play, and I never developed much of a killer instinct.
Thomas, on the other hand, learned early on that if he wanted to play this game, he had to be faster, smarter, and more creative than the other kids. I'd be willing to bet that he was picked last a whole lot growing up. He had to prove it, and even when he did, people thought it was a fluke so he had to prove it again.
At every step he's been doubted. When he proved himself in high school, he was doubted in college. When he proved it in college, he was still drafted last overall with the 60th pick. When he showed that he could play in Sacramento, they let him go to the Suns as a free agent. When he played well in Phoenix, they still traded him away for another point guard.
He finally found a home in Boston, but even here he's had to prove himself again and again. He was seen as a bench scorer, but he played his way into the starting lineup and right on into the All-Star game. He's finally getting the respect and recognition deserving of one of the game's best players, but he's still not seen as a superstar or franchise player.
He's never going to grow out of it; the chip has become part of him now. He's always going to find another obstacle to hurdle. Another doubter to prove wrong. Another challenge to overcome.
You can bet that he's using the playoffs from the last two years as motivation. For a while now he's been the focus of the other team's defense, but those defenses became comically laser-focused on him in the playoffs. He's going to go home and try to figure out ways to get through triple- and quadruple-teams to score. That's just who he is.
Of course, the best way he can help himself in the offseason is to help the team get better players to put around him. As far back as the All-Star game, Thomas has been recruiting his peers to take their talents to the sunny beaches of Boston. He's also going to be the team's representative at the NBA Draft Lottery. I believe that he'd stand outside the TD Garden handing out flyers and kissing babies if he thought it would help the team add an All-Star or two.
That doesn't mean that he'll lose his Napoleon Complex any time soon, though. If anything he'll channel it into winning a playoff series, then another, then another, then the title, then more titles. Who knows, maybe he'll wind up being one of the shortest players in the Hall of Fame some day. Go ahead and doubt him. Please.