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Return of the king: Isaiah Thomas back in the Garden

Last season, IT made one trip back to Boston and never got a deserved hero’s welcome. He’s back again tonight and time to honor the King of the Fourth.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

For most kings, their monarchy is a birth right. It’s a title passed down from generation to generation, an unearned reign oftentimes too heavy for the head that wears the crown. But for Isaiah Thomas, our King of the Fourth, there are few players that have earned that title as much as IT. In only two and a half seasons in Boston, his legend was born out of blood, sweat, teeth, a career-threatening hip injury, and unfortunately, tears.

On the eve of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, Thomas’ sister, Chyna, was killed in a car accident. IT would persevere through the post season with a heavy heart, including a 53-spot in Game 2 against the Washington Wizards.

It was a fitting dedication to his sister and one of the biggest examples of why the Celtics’ fan base fell in love with Thomas: he gave his body, heart, and soul to his family, his team, and his city. “The Little Guy” embodied what being a Celtic is all about which made it so hard when later that summer, he was traded for Kyrie Irving.

After Saturday’s matinee win against the Hawks, Al Horford said, “one of the reasons I came here was to play with him. One of the things I always admired about Isaiah is just his heart. He’s a good guy off the court, but on the floor, just leaving it all out there. It didn’t matter if he was hurt, if there was something wrong. He’s a guy that loves to compete, that plays hard, that plays to win. It was just a lot of fun to be able to play with him.”

IT signed with Denver for an opportunity to contribute with a championship contender. He signed a one-year veteran’s minimum deal to reunite with Mike Malone, the first NBA head coach to give Thomas his star turn in Sacramento. He had spent nearly the first three-quarters of the season rehabbing from arthroscopic hip surgery from a year ago, but has made a less than triumphant return this season. Thomas has found himself out of the rotation of late and outside of a curtain call in the Garden tonight, he may not even see the floor against the Celtics, but his time with Boston won’t be forgotten.

“It’s going to feel good to see him. I’m really good friends with Isaiah, just like a lot guys,” Marcus Smart said. “For him to have the career he’s had and go through the injury that he went through and everything else after that, you don’t wish that on any player, especially of his caliber. So, it will be good to see him and hopefully he gets the love he deserves.”

Check out the replies in that tweet. There is no doubt that he’ll be showered with love tonight in the Garden. My guess is that whatever video tribute was lost in the shuffle last season between that kerfuffle with Paul Pierce and being traded from Cleveland to Los Angeles and never coming back to Boston will be played. He deserves it. All hail the king.


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