“Isaiah Thomas is my favorite superhero!”
That was my go-to tweet whenever he was taking over a 4th quarter, single handedly willing the Celtics past opponents.
On a team of lunch-pail underdogs that always punched up, he was the megawatt-smiling, truth-bombing face of the franchise and we loved him for it. I don’t know if there’s been an athlete in my lifetime that prompted more giggle-fit-fist-pump celebrations by me. My kids adored him and they were barely old enough to grasp basketball. At 6’5”, I would tower over him if I stood next to him, but I can honestly and ironically say that I look up to him.
Isaiah Thomas will forever be in my heart for the few years he was in Boston. He was paradoxically larger than life.
The thing with heroes, unfortunately, is that they typically face dark and daunting periods of strife. They get hurt, they lose loved ones, they find their powers ripped away from them. Sometimes they are cast aside and forgotten. The glory and power is torn away from them and they become painfully human. We empathize with them and instinctively root for them to overcome. The payoff is usually a realization that they’ve had the power within them all along and the return to greatness is glorious.
Alas, Thomas is not a comic book character and he’s living a real life. He’s also made millions of dollars playing the game that he loves. So Brinks truck or no Brinks truck, I think he’ll be just fine and I’m clearly melodrama-ing this the way only a fanboy can. Still, I can’t keep myself from rooting for this guy, no matter what team he plays for (even the Lakers).
Nobody knows if Thomas will ever be as physically sound as he was in Boston. In this summer’s brutal free agent market, he’s just too big a risk for teams to throw money at so he’ll likely be forced to take a “prove it” one-year deal. The good news is that he’s made a career out of proving doubters wrong. I just hope he finds himself a home where his talents will be utilized and more so, appreciated.
Quixotically I have a vision of him returning to All-Star form and finishing out his playing days for his hometown Seattle Supersonics. For now, perhaps, he can simply be a veteran leader and box score stuffer for a team looking to move in the right direction. Who knows, maybe he can once again lead a lottery bound team on a run back to the playoffs.
The Boston Celtics are better off at the moment with Kyrie Irving running the point. But let us not forget that we would not have been in position to trade for Irving if Thomas had not yet put us back on the map as a team on the rise. For that I am forever grateful and because of that I’m always going to be a fan. I wish him well with his next chapter, wherever he goes.