Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins penned an article regarding Isaiah Thomas’s emotional roller coaster of a year. Thomas called it the best year of his career, but the worst year of his life.
Thomas’ career skyrocketed last season, catapulting the 5’8 point guard into NBA stardom. His 28.9 PPG on an absurd 54.6 effective FG percentage earned him his second All-Star nod and All-NBA team honors. Thomas was simply stunning; he carried a Celtics team that felt more like the 3 or 4 seed on paper to an Eastern Conference regular season title. He admirably battled through a hip labrum injury that will now sideline him until at least January 2018.
The internal emotional battle of dealing with the tragic loss of his sister was heart-rendering. As the playoffs began, Thomas bounced back and forth from Boston to Seattle, taking multiple cross-country flights to mourn with his family. As if basketball fans needed more of a reason to love Isaiah, his stoicism and resolve in the face of sadness was truly inspiring.
“Hoop is what lets me forget about everything else,” Thomas says. “The court was the only place I felt comfortable. At home, I’d just sit around and think about my sister, which hurt. On the floor, I was free. Emotionally, I wasn’t even there.”
Almost unfathomably, IT didn’t lose a step as the offensive focal point of the Celtics playoff run, pouring in 23.3 PPG and 6.7 APG over fifteen postseason games, before eventually being shut down due to the lingering hip injury. “No doubt about it, I should have sat out the playoffs,” Thomas says. “No way around it, I made it worse.”
The unquestionable highlight of IT’s playoff performance was a 53-point outburst against the Wizards in game 2 of the ECSF. Isaiah told SI that in the moments when he heard the TD Garden crowd chanting “MVP”, he felt that he had “everything he wanted”.
Thomas went on to discuss his tireless offseason rehabilitation, which included with multiple doctors visits and MRIs. He also talked about how excited he and Al Horford were to recruit Gordon Hayward in early July. “We made the Celtics cool again.” Thomas stated.
Isaiah is clearly disappointed that he won’t be able to finish what he started with the C’s. “I felt like I was building my own thing in Boston and we were close,” Thomas lamented. “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.”
Thomas was blindsided by the Cavaliers trade. “None of it made any sense,” Thomas says. “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.”
Now, IT will be sidelined for the beginning of a critical contract season, one bound to be filled with public debate about whether he’s worth a max-level contract. “Something crazy is going to happen again,” Thomas said, “because that’s how it always goes with me.”
We’ve lost count of the number of doubters that Thomas has already proven wrong, but he insists on keeping the chip on his shoulder that has come to define him. “I just gotta get healthy and show the world again,” Thomas says. “That’s not a question for me. It’s only a question for everybody else.”
The city of Boston remains a special place for Isaiah. After three losing seasons in Sacramento, and a forgettable stint in Phoenix, Boston was the first NBA destination to ever fully embrace the 28-year-old point guard. However, Thomas vows to hold one grudge from his time in Boston.
“Boston is going to be all love,” he vows, with one exception. “I might not ever talk to Danny 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.”
You can read Lee Jenkins’ full story here.
All non-cited statistics are from basketball-reference. All salary information is from RealGM.