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Isaiah Thomas loved Boston. During his time with the Celtics, he had transcended from a tantalizing sixth-man to a stone-cold All-Star. He drastically boosted his value in the league, proving doubters wrong all the while. He helped recruit guys who are now the core of the franchise, like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. And then in one instant, he was shipped out of town.

Isaiah finally opened up after weeks of silence when he shared his thoughts on The Players' Tribune with a statement titled "This Is for Boston" and honestly, it hurt to read. As excited as I am to see Kyrie Irving suiting up in green, I feel for Isaiah and all he has done for the city. He wanted to build a legacy in Boston and as far as I'm concerned, he probably could've. Don't get me wrong, the exceptional things that he accomplished in his time here will not be forgotten, but still.

IT explained the phone call he had with Danny Ainge and his initial reaction. He was clearly caught off guard and when Ainge was praising and thanking him, he understandably didn't want to hear any more. If I had grown fond of a city and brought them out of a rebuild and into the Eastern Conference Finals, only to get traded when it was just getting really good, I would be pissed off too:

And then somewhere in there, it was just like … it was barely anything. This little pause in the conversation. And that’s when he told me.

“I just traded you.”

Simple as that. No big words, no big speech. Though I guess when it comes to shit like that, there’s not much more to say.

“To where.” That’s all I could manage.

“To the Cavaliers, for Kyrie.”

And that’s when, like — man. You ever been on the phone, and someone says something … and then all of a sudden, all you can think about after is, I don’t want to be on the phone anymore? Not even in a rude way. Just, like, your willpower to have a conversation shuts down. That’s what it was like for me in that moment.

Danny started going on about everything I’ve done for the city of Boston, and for the Celtics organization, both on and off the court. About what a great player I am, and how I’m going to be great in Cleveland. You know, telling me that type of stuff. And it was just like … at that point in time? I definitely didn’t want to hear none of that.

So I was steady trying to cut him off a few times, and then eventually I did. It was basically, you know — I appreciate you reaching out, appreciate you telling me, but there’s really nothing else that you or I need to be saying right now.

And that was the gist of it.

That was the call.

Isaiah went on to talk about what the trade meant for his family. They all felt like Boston was home to them and as much as they'll miss this city, they are excited for what's next. IT's sons best summed up the sad, yet exciting feeling:

But the truth is — those first two reactions I got, from my sons? That was all I needed. All those takes, all the rumors, all the expert analysis going around … and, man, my sons got it more right in a couple of minutes over FaceTime. Everything about that trade, everything that I was feeling in my heart in those moments — they got it down to the only two things that mattered.

One, as my oldest said it: “LeBron James.” Or put another way — I get to come over and join the best team in the East, and try to win a championship alongside the best basketball player in the world.

And two, as my youngest said it: “Sad.” Or put another way — man, man, am I going to miss this city.

Man, am I going to miss being a Celtic.

As I said earlier, the post is painful to read because of Isaiah's love for the culture in Boston and his ruthless determination to be one of the great sports figures for the city. When I get to the following part in his story, though, it got even more difficult to read:

Like I said, when the trade news broke, I got a lot of messages. They had my texts, IG, Twitter, voicemail, you name it, just blowing up. But there was one message in particular, out of all of them, that really stuck with me. It was from Tom Brady.

What’s up, IT, I heard about the news. You good?

I’m alright. I mean, it’s crazy. It’s a cold game.

Yes it is. Best of luck. You’re gonna do great. Keep in touch.

It wasn’t about what he said, exactly — though it was cool for him to say all that, no doubt. But it was more just everything it meant, I think, that stuck with me. To be getting a personal message like that from someone like Tom, who is such a Boston sports legend … I mean, it was bittersweet.

At first, honestly, it stung a little. I look at a career like Tom’s with the Patriots — and that’s exactly the kind of career that I had hoped to be building here with the Celtics: Being this low draft pick … coming in without acclaim … and then — through hard work, and determination, and some talent that maybe people had overlooked — just starting to win, and win, and win. And then establishing a legacy of winning. And then staying in Boston, winning titles and competing like hell, for the rest of my career — until I was considered one of the all-time Boston greats. That’s the career that I had started to map out for myself. In my mind, I wanted to be the Celtics version of Brady and Ortiz. I wanted this next era of Celtics basketball to go down in history — and I wanted to go down in Boston sports history with it. So when I got that text from Tom, you know, there was part of me that felt a little down.

Time will tell if this trade was best for Boston, but my gosh. I got all the feels reading that.

The little guy capped off his article on a positive note. Sure, being the next Boston legend is not in the cards anymore. But what he did for this team, for this city, and for this culture will never be forgotten:

I’ll never be Tom Brady now. And I’ll never be David Ortiz. I’ll never be Bill Russell, or Paul Pierce, or Kevin Garnett, or Larry Bird. But whether I would have without this trade, or I wouldn’t have — I still like to imagine one thing.

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.


As every Celtics fan can agree (except for maybe those two imbeciles who burned your jersey - I guess they don't know how trades work), thank you for everything, Isaiah.

Check out all the rest IT had to say about Boston, the Cavs, the trade itself, and more in The Players' Tribune article.


Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32

Photo by CHARLES KRUPA/AP IMAGES

Erik Johnson 9/06/2017 02:22:00 PM Edit
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