Isaiah Thomas on #ThatSlowGrind

Fresh off of a career year punctuated by leading the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring (10.1 points with 67.3% true shooting) and third in the league in Points Per Game (28.9), at five-feet nine inches tall, Isaiah Thomas is more than the heart of the Boston Celtics -- he's a revelation. 

Over the years, starting from his childhood in Tacoma, Washington, little by little he's had to prove himself. It's been slow, it's been a grind. Thus, he's been on #ThatSlowGrind.

Junior High ball? He's too small.

OK, anyone can make a junior high team. He'll never make the High School squad though.

30+ PPG in his junior year at Curtis Senior High School in University Place, Washington? Probably the product of bad competition? Doesn't matter, his career ends here. I mean, only about one-percent of high school players make it to play Division-one college basketball. 

Isaiah becomes part of the one-percent, playing for the Washington Huskies, and is named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year as a true Freshman, averaging 15.5 points, 2.6 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game in 2008-09. Not to mention creating some notable memories during March Madness with his not-even-surprising-anymore clutch play.

Some college success? That's cute. No way in hell he makes the pros. He's too small.

(Cue draft music. Adam Silver approaches the podium.)

"With the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select...Isaiah Thomas, from the University of Washington. Good night, New Jersey."

Thomas got drafted? Yeah, dead last. He still won't make the team though. He'll be lucky to get any play in Europe.

Fast-forward a few clicks. IT busts his ass, day in, day out for the Kings, outworking and "out-wanting" to succeed. When his time comes, in true IT-fashion, he shines. 

But even his coaches and Kings' brass think he's expendable, despite putting up averages of 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game in his third year.

July 12, 2014: Isaiah gets traded to the Phoenix Suns for a seven-million dollar trade exception and a dude who never played a second in the NBA. That's so Sacramento.

Now a Sun, IT does it again. Working even harder, feeling, for the umpteenth time, that he needs to prove himself, IT shines. When his time comes, he kills it. Yet his numbers, again, aren't good enough to warrant more than bench-duty.

With Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic also on the roster, one of the guards had to go. But who would trade for Thomas?

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Danny.

The one and only Danny Ainge -- or "Trader Danny," as the Celtics General Manager is sometimes referred to -- acquired Isaiah from Phoenix for Marcus Thornton and the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round draft pick.

Isaiah Thomas, now a Boston Celtic, is immediately loved by Celtics faithful. Proving heart-over-height, the David-amongst-a-sea-of-Goliaths guard showed his grit, toughness, leadership, and sniper-like killer instinct right off the bat. 

February 22, 2015: In his Celtics debut -- on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers, no less -- IT showed his skills and fire, notching 21 easy points and two technical fouls, leading to his ejection.

As a Celtics fan, I was happier with the ejection than the scoring. "Kid's got heart and fire, I dig that." I remember telling my brother as we watched from a sports book in Las Vegas.

That spark to Thomas' flame, however, came a long time ago. And every day, he works harder than the last, using the doubt of naysayers and haters to add fuel to his internal inferno.

That's what #ThatSlowGrind is all about. 

Doubt IT at your own risk. Personally, I dare you to dare him. 

What's your take on the meaning of #ThatSlowGrind? Let us know in the comments below. 

Photo Credit: Nike; Charles Krupa; USA Today