Isaiah Thomas publishes emotional goodbye to Boston in Players’ Tribune

Isaiah Thomas publishes emotional goodbye to Boston in Players’ Tribune

Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports

September 6, 2017

In “This is for Boston,” Thomas addresses his reaction to the trade and details the phone call he received from Danny Ainge with the news.

I missed the call, must have been doing something in the car. Danny left a text.

‘IT, call me when you can.’

Sounds dramatic, but that’s actually a pretty normal text from Danny. Could’ve been about all sorts of things. So I called him back, still driving and not really thinking much of it. He knew I’d been on my trip, so he asked me a few questions about it. I’m sure I asked him how he was, maybe how the family was doing. Again, you know, just that normal sort of talk.

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.”

When Thomas told his sons the news, his oldest was excited that Thomas would be playing with LeBron James in Cleveland, but his youngest was sad because he loves Boston and was afraid of Cleveland’s potential lack of skate parks. Thomas said these two reactions summed up his feelings perfectly.

“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.”

Thomas said the trade “hurt a lot,” not because of anything anyone else did, but because he “fell in love with Boston.”

He felt a strong connection to the city after fans rallied around him following the sudden death of his sister, Chyna, who was killed in a car accident in April. He hoped to have a long career in Boston, like that of David Ortiz and Tom Brady, and struggled with the realization it won’t happen now.

That’s why a text he received from Brady after the trade was “bittersweet.”

“What’s up, IT, I heard about the news. You good?,” Brady wrote.

Thomas responded, “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,” Brady said.

“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,” Thomas wrote. “ … 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.”

But then Thomas realized the fact that Brady was texting him at all said something about the impact he made during his short time in Boston.

“I think I realized that, like, Yo — that’s Tom Fucking Brady. And I was only here for two and a half years. Tom Brady isn’t sending a text like that to guys who played in Boston for only two and a half years — unless they did something very special. So maybe, I don’t know … maybe that’s something to be proud of. And maybe, my time here … even if, in the end, I guess it wasn’t quite what I’d dreamed it would be — maybe it still meant something to some people.”

Thomas said is still hurts, he’s still sad and it will be strange to play against the Celtics as a Cavalier. But he hopes he left a lasting impression on even just one fan in Boston.

“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.”

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