(Isaiah Thomas- Via The Player’s Tribune) I’m only human. I may act like a tough guy on the court. And I may seem like I have ice in my veins when I’m competing. But it ain’t ice, really. I got blood and I got a heart like everyone else. And so when I say this hurts, man — just know that it isn’t because of anything anyone else did. It’s only because of something I did. I fell in love with Boston.
This trade is the definition of bitter-sweet.
I was on the 18th hole of the Bethpage Black Course, where I worked the summer as a caddy. I went to go check my phone on the 18th tee box, something I do every round just to see what I missed while being out on the course.
I noticed that I had more messages than I normally do at that point in the day, so I knew something was up.
I scrolled down my notifications center and boom; Isaiah Thomas has been traded to the Boston Celtics for Kyrie Irving.
My heart dropped in that moment. My initial reaction was disbelief. Did the Celtics really just trade IT and get Kyrie? Just saying that in my head still sounds crazy.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty upset. I wondered how Danny Ainge could do that to Isaiah, a guy who’s been counted-out and disrespected his whole career. A guy who turned around the franchise, who helped recruit Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. Who played in a game only a day after his sister’s death, while limping through the first two rounds of the playoffs on a bad hip.
Not to mention the fact that IT is not only my favorite Celtic, but my favorite current athlete.
It took a half hour for my emotions to calm down a little, and then it hit me; We just got Kyrie f–ing Irving.
As more time has passed, this trade has really grown on me. There are so many reasons why this move helps the Celtics.
First, Kyrie Irving is an upgrade from Thomas. Isaiah is no-doubt an elite level point guard, don’t get me wrong, but Kyrie has played in the finals three straight years and is only 25 years old. He’s a guy who can go toe-to-toe offensively with pretty much anyone in the league.
If you had to pick one guy in the league to “get you a bucket” in the closing seconds of a game, other than Kevin Durant, Kyrie is going to be your choice. Some would even pick Kyrie as their first choice.
In a league where one-on-one scoring is so valuable in the playoffs, having a guy like Kyrie is often times the difference maker. We saw this in the 2016 Finals. When the game got ugly late in game seven, both teams desperately needed a basket. The Cavs ultimately won that game, and the NBA title, because Kyrie “got them a bucket” when it mattered most.
Another trade factor, that has come to fruition in the more recent days, is the severity of Isaiah’s hip injury. Although he’s downplayed this injury, some reports have said he won’t be able to start a game until 2018. Whether Isaiah plays on opening night, or he doesn’t see the court until Feb, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding how this will effect his career long-term.
This then brings up the debate about whether or not Danny Ainge wanted to sign Isaiah to a max deal. In hindsight, there’s no doubt that Ainge had his doubts about re-signing Isaiah. The Celtics were going to be in an awkward position when Isaiah’s contract was up. Trading him, as tough as it was, avoided that situation from occurring.
The initial reaction to the trade, at least on social media, was that the Celtics overpaid. In my opinion that is just flat out wrong. Isaiah was not the kicker in this trade, the Brooklyn pick was. By this, I mean that this trade does not happen without the Brooklyn pick involved.
The Cavs could’ve gone out and traded for another high profile point guard, such as Eric Bledsoe or Kemba Walker, but the fact that Boston was willing to throw in Brooklyn’s pick ended up being the difference maker.
By the time the trade officially went through, I was really happy about the trade. The Celtics got better, and the Cavs (assuming Isaiah’s hip is in bad shape) got worse.
And then Isaiah published his farewell article via The Player’s Tribune.
Reading about how much Isaiah loved Boston, and how much the city and the fans meant to him, was heartbreaking. You could feel just how much the trade hurt him.
When Isaiah talked about the passing of his sister, it really hit me how much he loved being a Celtic.
“First of all, I’m going to do it for Chyna, and for my family. But then I’m also going to do it for my city. ’Cause what they’re showing me right now, is all I needed tonight: to know I’m not alone,” Thomas said, talking about the support he got from the fans following the death of his sister. “They’re showing me that they’re going through the same thing I’m going through right now. They’re showing me that I’m one of them, and that we’re in this together. So let’s be in this together.”
He closed off the article talking about what he hopes his impact will be in Boston.
“I like to imagine that sometime not long from now, somewhere in Boston, someone is going to be a parent, talking basketball to their kid. And their kid is going to ask them, point-blank like kids do, you know, “Yo — why you become a Celtics fan?” And that parent, man, they’re going to think back to themselves — really think on it. And then they’re going to smile, and tell the truth. “I saw Isaiah Thomas play.” That would make me very happy. For me, I think, that’d be enough.”
Isaiah is an inspiration to all. Although he was only in Boston for two-and-a-half years, his impact will surely last generations. He truly defines what it means to be a Celtic. For that, the city of Boston will be forever faithful to “the little guy.”
Thank you Isaiah.