In the same way that players do, sometimes teams build a reputation based on appearance more so than actual facts. Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas was one of those skeptics after being traded from a poor Sacramento Kings team to the Phoenix Suns and had started to make a playoff push through the All-Star break before getting the call.
“When I got traded, I didn’t want to go because even though the Phoenix thing didn’t work out, we were seventh or eighth in the West,” Thomas told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “We were fighting for a playoff spot. Boston had traded (Rajon) Rondo, they traded Jeff Green, they traded so many players. It was rebuilding time. So when I got traded there, ‘Damn, I got to go to another team that’s rebuilding at the end of their conference.’”
Fortunately for Thomas, the Celtics were just barely outside the playoff picture.
“(Hall of Famer) Isiah Thomas called me that day and said: ‘You guys are a game and a half out of the eighth spot. Take this team to the playoffs,’” the Celtics guard said. “That’s when it started changing a little bit to me. ‘Maybe I can see the playoffs for the first time in my career.’”
Thomas put up 19 points per game off the bench after the trade, helping Boston reach the playoffs. The Celtics would be swept in the first round, but it was Thomas’ first taste of the playoffs, and the beginning chapter of his story in Celtics green.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “There is no other feeling like Boston. Walking into the Garden for my first game, putting on that Celtics jersey, you could feel the energy. The history. You got to give it 110 percent every night when you put on that Celtics jersey because there is so much history behind it. “I just took advantage of the opportunity. Stay in the moment. Sometimes I sit back and say, ‘I play for the Celtics. It doesn’t make no sense.'”
The 5-foot-9 dynamo has endeared himself into the hearts of a blue-collar town that’s done nothing but welcome him with open arms since his 2015 arrival, now reaping the benefits of a 29.9-points per game average and a second place in the Eastern Conference.
‘The city was all love from the day I got there,” he said. “Just the weather sucks.”