A lot was made out of the possibility of Isaiah Thomas receiving his tribute video for his time in Boston on the same night as Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement.
After much debate between fans and an interjection from Pierce himself, the Celtics will ultimately move Thomas’ tribute to another night.
I'd like to thank the Celtics for their gracious offer to play a video tribute on Feb 11th celebrating my 3yrs in Boston. But since it appears this has caused some controversy w/ Paul Pierce's night I'd ask the Celtics instead to focus all of their attention on #34's career.— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) January 17, 2018
Thomas already returned to the TD Garden on January 3rd, but did not participate in that game having played for the first time this season the night before. He requested that the Celtics play his tribute video on a night that he’s playing, so Boston obliged.
An article on ESPN by Jackie MacMullen and Chris Forsberg gave some insight into conversations between Pierce and Danny Ainge.
“Danny and I talked about it for 40 minutes,” Pierce explained to ESPN early Tuesday afternoon. “He told me, ‘This is what we have planned,’ and at the end of the conversation, he said, ‘If you don’t want us to do Isaiah, we won’t.’ So I told him, ‘I really don’t.’ So that was it.
It’s included that Ainge said Isaiah intended to bow out once he learned of Pierce’s reservations, and that Thomas did not realize that the next available date after January 3rd was Pierce’s night. Still, Pierce had some further thoughts on the subject.
“Danny tried to sell me on it, but I told him, ‘He had a shot, Danny, and he punked you on it. He pretty much dictated everything.’ They let it happen because they felt sorry how (the trade to Cleveland) went down. It’s guilt. That’s what it is.”
Ainge told ESPN that it was neither he or Thomas’ intention to take away from Pierce’s celebration. The tribute video was planned to get played during the pregame introductions, similar to what Boston did for Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley.
However, this situation has escalated to the point where Pierce’s former teammates have given their own opinions on the matter.
“Everyone understood where I was coming from,” Pierce said. “KG was like, ‘Isaiah who? Hell no, you’re damn right you’re not sharing your night with him.”
“What has [Thomas] done?” Rondo said before Tuesday’s game, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. When told how Thomas led Boston to the East finals, Rondo replied, “Oh, that’s what we celebrate around here?”
“I’m with Pierce, man,” said Allen. “(Thomas) didn’t put in more work than Paul. Anybody disagree? OK. Paul Pierce put in big work, man. Why would they honor (Thomas) on that same day, man?
”Let my man get his jersey retired, man. Let him embrace that, man. He put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this organization, man, and capitalized and had some good results. (Pierce) struggled with the team. I remember losing 19 straight with that man. Turned around and won a championship (the next season). Talk about Paul Pierce, man, don’t mention (Thomas’) name, the guys’ name that don’t stand in the same frame.”
The Celtics were put in a difficult position trying to honor former players, and they handled it as well as they could have after it turned into an unnecessary comparison between two individuals that did a lot for the organization.
Boston is scheduled to tip off against the Cavaliers on February 11th at 3:30 p.m. EST, as Thomas makes is first appearance against the Celtics since getting traded in August.