BOSTON — Monday night’s game between the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets had a little extra significance.
The 114-105 win for the Nuggets marked Isaiah Thomas’ return to TD Garden for the first time as an active player since his trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Summer 2017.
During the first timeout, the Celtics played a tribute video for Thomas, and that plus the ensuing ovation lasted about two minutes. It was a touching moment that sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy, and clearly meant a lot to Thomas, who visibly was emotional during the tribute.
After the game, Thomas was incredibly thankful. Here’s what he, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Kyrie Irving (who, of course, was the return in the Thomas trade to the Cavs), had to say about the moment.
That was big, that was special. I wish my family was here to see that, but they watched it. I was emotional, I almost cried. That was everything, I appreciate them for doing that, that meant a lot.
It’s up there. I mean, I got my college jersey retired, that was big. But this is like, you can’t describe that feeling. My teammates felt that, and they wasn’t even part of that. It was big time, I appreciate them for doing that, that meant a lot, especially — I mean, I’ve been able to be in a situation where I’m able to play right now. This type of love is something I wanted, I needed, and I’m glad I was able to come back and the love was just amazing.
It was fun, (my ex-teammates) are like brothers to me, those guy are always and will always be family. This whole organization, the coaching staff, everybody that I was here for those three years is always going to be family and is special in my heart.
Well deserved 10 times over. You know, like I can’t say enough great things about Isaiah. I could sit up here all night and certainly that video was great. Our people did a great job on it; it was very — it was emotional and it was — it could’ve lasted a lot longer. So, greatly appreciative of our time together and it was — I’m glad he got that moment.
I mean, first and foremost we all understand that personal emotions and business don’t mix, especially in the NBA. You have a plan where you’d like to stay somewhere then the organization moves in another direction. We respect all those guys who are in the top positions to make those decisions, but you can just see that the connection that guys have with fans that they build in the community sticks with them for the rest of their careers and the fans support them for the rest of their careers, for the most part at least.
It’s just awesome. It’s well documented what he’s done here. For me, it’s a unique position because I’m the one that got traded for him. I just want to see him do well. We got drafted the same year. He’s dealt with a lot of BS in his career, just trying to be the underdog all the time instead of getting the opportunity he deserves. Boston gave him that opportunity and he flourished. Unfortunately, he had that hip injury. He’ll be back at the top of his game in no time. You don’t ever got to worry about a talented guy like that finding a job in the NBA and making an impact somewhere.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images