Enough already. Every time someone puts a keyboard or microphone near Isaiah Thomas’ face he reminds us more and more of his namesake. We hated that IT.
He’s also, apparently, a lot more grown up.
Fandom, especially in Boston, is like a marriage. We love our teams and players until we don’t. And then, like a divorce, we tend to hate their very existence. Sure, there have been some amicable splits. We love Ray Bourque, despite leaving to lift Lord Stanley in Colorado. And, other than that bastard Johnny Damon who went to New York, we don’t hate anyone of the 2004 Red Sox players who went elsewhere. They drink for free forevah!
Thomas came to Boston a pretty average NBA player. He spent three seasons in Sacramento (2011-2014) and had a cup of coffee in Phoenix in (2014-2015). In those three and a half years he averaged just over 15 points, 4.5 assistants, and less than a steal per game. He was 37% from the 3-point line and 44% from the field. He was a nice player.
In two and a half years in Boston he became a star – averaging over 24 points, 6 assists, and 1 steal a game. He was a giant in the playoffs. Boston loved IT. Many of us still do, despite how difficult he is making it.
Channeling his inner Hoodie, Danny Ainge capitalized on Thomas’s breakout year and post season and packaged him in a deal for Kyrie Irving in August. Beyond the machinations of compensatory picks due to Thomas’s health and the emotional outcry by Boston fans who loved IT’s play and heart, the initial reaction was that maybe the Celtics were giving up too much for Irving. Kyrie certainly didn’t take long to dispel those fears.
As much as we loved Thomas, Boston fans, more than most others, understand that even star players come and go. At some point everyone leaves – they are traded, released, or retire. We don’t like it when it happens to a popular player and important piece to our success.
The key for fans, lest we lose faith in the organization, is that these moves need to improve the team. And, over the course of the last two decades, we’ve come to understand that, just maybe, the coach and GM know a little more about the game and the organization than we do.
Theo dumped Nomar – who was the franchise’s most popular player for a decade. We don’t win the 2004 World Series without that deal.
Belichick dumps everyone at some point. There is no Patriots Dynasty without his cold calculus.
Ainge traded Paul Pierce, an all-time Celtic great, and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in 2013 over the outrage of all of New England. That deal, in hindsight, continues to be regarded as one of the greatest in history. Theo, Bill, and Danny know how to build winning franchises.
The problem with the IT-Irving trade is simply this: Thomas can’t move on. Rather than thank Ainge and the Celtics organization for the opportunity they gave him – and he capitalized on – to become a star, he’s pouted and cried about how he was treated.
Thomas is not a child, despite how he’s behaved since the trade. From snide tweets responding to Boston’s growing appreciation for Irving to criticizing Ainge and the Celtics’ medical staff, it’s been a four-month sulk that would shame even the most melodramatic teenage girl upset over being dumped for the prettier cheerleader.
Thomas contents that he’s moved on. He claims that the drama of the trade is only being kept alive by media. But his actions betray his words.
The week before Christmas, IT dropped the ultimate self-pity party. He posted a fourteen-minute video on The Players Tribune detailing the day he learned of the trade and his FaceTime exchange with his kids about having to move to Cleveland. It is a touching video. It is clear how disappointed IT is about leaving the Celtics and uprooting his family to move to Cleveland.
Time to Move On
That is totally understandable. Anyone who’s ever been to Cleveland would be devastated about moving there. But this, IT, is the life you chose. You are not a rookie. You’ve been through this before.
Thomas needs to stop acting like the original Isiah Thomas – one of history’s greatest and most unlikable whiners – and act like the guy who capitalized on his trade to Boston. Ainge and the Celtics gave you an opportunity to be a star and you took it. They traded you for a better player because that’s what organizations are supposed to do to improve their teams. You have a new opportunity in Cleveland with perhaps the greatest player in league history – grow up and take it.