To Isaiah Thomas - a plea for empathy and tribute date change

On May 3, 2017, the day after he destroyed the Washington Wizards with an astounding 53-point game, Isaiah Thomas was in a medical facility elevator with two women he didn't know. One was my daughter, Lisa, and the other was my grand daughter, Courtney. Courtney was born on May 1, 1994, one day before the birth of Isaiah's sister, Chyna, who was killed in an auto accident on April 15th. Courtney was there for some very uncomfortable medical tests and a meeting with a team that would perform and monitor her inevitable double-lung transplant in an attempt to prolong her life.

Lisa, a lady known to have stalked Danny Ainge and Larry Bird in the 1980's for photo opportunities as they left Boston garden after a game, told me two things about Isaiah. "Dad, he looked exhausted. And he looked shorter than 5'9"." Neither was a surprise. Thomas was still recovering from the death of his sister, an energy-robbing, electrifying performance on the court and uncomfortable dental surgery. And his true height may be 5'8", or a bit less.

As I write this, Courtney is again in a medical facility after suffering a lung collapse. The young boy at her side is my great grandson, Carson. I sit here missing the same left-front tooth that Isaiah lost in game one of the Washington series and recently went through dental surgery to replace it. It was elbowed out by a future high school basketball star while playing ball in the grade school basketball court 60 years ago. All just a bit ironic.

Empathy is a fine quality
in any individual but often in short supply in our society. I have a true affection for Isaiah Thomas and what he has accomplished. He rarely gets the attention he deserves, and thus he seeks, and sometimes, demands it. I can't remember how many times I bypassed him in my Fantasy Basketball drafts and soon regretted it. But it may be time to acquire a bit of empathy, or at least resurrect what is already there.

Celtics Captain, Paul Pierce (he will always be Captain to me) could use some attention, as could Thomas - some time after February 11, the scheduled date for The Captain's tribute. There would be a bonus in it for Isaiah. He would have his own day and be more adored by the Boston fans.

My mother died at 46 years old, and my sister, Sue, died of Multiple Sclerosis two years later at the age of 19. She had my sense of humor and we were friends. My father and brother both died at 64, and I am the sole survivor of a family of five. Courtney was born on May 1, 1994 and was quickly diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system that shortens lifespan considerably. Carson is very tall and very athletic (seems like I am biased, but he really is). He needs his "mama". I am well aware of loss.

Paul Pierce has had no picnic as a Celtic. He had to put up with the less-than-lovable Rick Pitino and had to work his butt off fighting to get to the rim while Antoine Walker threw up any shot from distance that he felt like taking. Paul carried the team for many years. He finally got his Championship ring when help arrived in the form of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Paul has surely paid his dues. He almost paid his life in a stabbing incident on September 25, 2000. CelticsLife's OWAUKEWAN wrote about the stabbing incident, and covered it beautifully. Paul was stabbed 11 times but never missed a game that season. The article ends with: Cheers to #34! We shall see you in rafters soon, and in the Hall soon after that!

We all have tragedy. We all have loss. From the fan reactions I have witnessed, most argue that The Captain should have his own separate tribute. He earned it here. He deserves it. IT needs it too. Nothing he did as a member of the Celtics caused the fans to dislike him. Asking for, and getting, a tribute the same night as The Truth could cause fans to not give Isaiah the accolades that he deserves. His tribute date should be changed. Both Paul and IT will benefit from it. It will get Danny, who honestly is trying to do the right thing, off the hook. And the fans can give their full attention to two of the most exciting stars that have ever stepped on the parquet. Oh, and by the way, Pierce lost both front teeth in a game when his face hit the floor, in similar fashion to Isaiah's tooth loss. The following according to the TusconCitizens' Bob Young:

Pierce broke off both of his front teeth and appeared woozy as he was helped off the court.

“He just got hammered,” O’Brien said. The Celtics led by five at the time, and they led by a point when Pierce returned to the court with 2:47 to go in the quarter.

He received a numbing injection in his mouth and wore a mouth guard. His nose, which was cut in the fall, was bandaged. That got the crowd of 13,049 into the game.

Empathy is simply the ability to understand the feelings of others. I have warm feelings for Paul Pierce and Isaiah Thomas. I hope IT brings forth the empathy that I know he has and asks for a change of tribute date. Everybody benefits from it, even Isaiah.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Peter Stringer/
Video via NewEnglandSportsDude
Courtney/Carson photo via Lisa Lane