Watch Isaiah Thomas play, and you can’t help but be reminded a bit of Allen Iverson. Just ask the NBA legend himself.
Iverson is a source of huge inspiration for many NBA players, especially Thomas, who like A.I. is an undersized point guard who has to rely on his tenacity and confidence to succeed. In a feature on Iverson for Sports Illustrated, author Lee Jenkins shared a great anecdote on how a compliment from “The Answer” inspired Thomas to take his game to the next level.
At All-Star Weekend (in 2016), Iverson met (Boston) Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas at The One Eighty, a restaurant 51 floors above downtown Toronto where the Stance socks party was held.
“You have no idea how much I love your game,” Iverson told Thomas, before heading off to a spades tournament. “I thought Isaiah was going to cry,” recalls Brian Lee, former director of basketball at Reebok. He said, ‘I felt confident before, but now I’m going to start killing it.'”
That’s high praise indeed from one of the greatest scoring point guards in NBA history. It’s also worth noting this exchange happened in February 2016, when Thomas was starting to make a name for himself but still had yet to truly break out.
Of course, Thomas went on to back up his claim. After a strong All-Star campaign in 2015-16, the generously-listed 5-foot-9 guard elevated his game to new heights the following season. He led the NBA’s Eastern Conference in scoring at 28.9 points per game while adding 5.9 assists per contest, finishing with the second-highest scoring average in Celtics franchise history behind only Larry Bird.
Thomas and Iverson apparently have kept in touch since that encounter in Toronto, as “The Little Guy” has done his best to emulate one of his idols. So far, so good.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images