The first time I saw Isaiah Thomas was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2010. It was the annual college basketball preview edition, and I just remember thinking to myself, haha this guy has the same name as the legend Isaiah Thomas. I didn’t think much of Isaiah and merely saw him as a short college player that probably wouldn’t make it to the NBA. Little did I know a couple years later he would be leading his Celtics to a 2–0 lead against a very formidable Wizards squad in the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Isaiah Thomas’ journey to the NBA is unprecedented to say the least. Isaiah Jamar Thomas was born on February 7, 1989 in Tacoma, Washington. Funny enough, his dad actually named him after the hall of fame point guard Isiah Thomas after losing a bet with his friend that the Lakers would beat the Pistons. Isaiah first started playing organized basketball in the 4th grade and he has been up against the odds ever since. Always being one of the shortest players on the team, you could only imagine the things he had to overcome to make it to the NBA. In his senior year of high school, Isaiah only had one offer to play basketball and that was at The University of Washington. It was right by home and he led the Huskies to the tournament all three years he was there. (including this amazing game winner.)
Fast forward to June 23, 2011, the night of the NBA draft. The Sacramento Kings took Isaiah with the 60th and last pick of the whole draft. The fact that NBA teams thought there were 59 players better than him, only motivated him even more. He’s been an underdog at every level of basketball (literally, the guy’s generously listed at 5′ 9″) and the NBA was nothing new to him. Just go and ball out. His rookie year he averaged 11 points and it was only up from there. By his third year in the league, he was averaging 20 points a game and was one of the most dynamic scorers in the league. However, he’s always had a unique gift for scoring the basketball. According to Isaiah, he does some of the same moves now that he’s been doing since middle school, (he’s not wrong, watch the video below) and he’s still getting people now…in the NBA
After three solid years with the Kings, they decided that Isaiah wouldn’t bring them a championship. So in a sign and trade deal, Isaiah was shipped to the Phoenix Suns. After 2 years with the Suns, they decided that he wouldn’t be the future of the franchise, and on the brink of the trade deadline in February 2015 the Suns traded him to Boston. As soon as Isaiah heard the news, he got a call from Boston head coach Brad Stevens. They talked about how he wanted to be the star of the team and lead the team to a championship. No one knew it yet, but Isaiah Thomas had just found his home, where he would eventually be the face of the franchise and turn the Celtics into title contenders again.
Fast forward again to April 15, 2017. It’s the eve of game 1 between the Celtics and Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. Isaiah Thomas had just found out that his 22 year old younger sister, Chyna, had died in a tragic car accident. Devastated and hurt, Isaiah Thomas decided that he was going to play through the pain and dedicate the playoffs to his sister.
May 2, 2017, the Celtics are playing the Wizards for game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi finals. Isaiah Thomas had just gotten his tooth knocked out the game before and was still recovering from oral surgery. That morning he actually had to go the doctor to get the swelling down because he couldn’t even talk. Also, it is his late sister’s birthday (she would have been 23) and we can only imagine the pain he is going through. With all this going on, Isaiah decides to play and little did we know he would play the game of his life. Isaiah dropped a playoff high 53 points, owning his “Mr. 4th quarter” title with 29 of them coming in the 4th and Overtime, and most importantly he led his team to a victory. I was watching the game on my computer (https://www.reddit.com/r/nbastreams/) and honestly I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had no idea how he was playing bigger than every one else on the court, despite everything he was going through. Every shot he took felt like it was going in and he was driving in the lane pin balling off defenders while finishing acrobatic layups. He honestly looked like a modern day Allen Iverson. Extremely small, talking trash, breaking ankles, and getting buckets. With his legendary playoff performance last night (I thought it was more impressive than MJ’s “flu game”), he cemented himself as one of the best players in the game.
But how does he do it? There is only one explanation…heart. Isaiah Thomas is a little man with a big heart that believes he can do anything. This season he has proved us all wrong as he was the 7th leading scorer in the league, led the Celtics to the 1st seed in the East, and you better believe he will do anything to lead the Celtics to their 18th championship. Isaiah Thomas, the basketball player and father, inspires everyone who watches him play as he continues to prove all his haters and doubters wrong (including me). Last night “IT4” showed to me and everyone watching that he was the real deal and that anything is possible. I believe he has motivated many kids who play basketball but aren’t the tallest…and somewhere out there a small kid is trying to become the next Isaiah Thomas.
Thanks For Reading.
“It’s Me Against Me”