Forsberg: Breaking down the Isaiah Thomas conundrum originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
A Boston Celtics assistant coach approached my table shaking his head before offering, “IT is pretty pissed at you.”
I was already aware. It was December 2017 and the Celtics were in the honeymoon phase with Kyrie Irving after the jaw-dropping summer trade that delivered him to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas. A 16-game winning streak had helped Boston to a 22-4 start and Irving had been otherworldly throughout, but especially in the fourth quarter during the winning streak.
I had written a story at my last stop about Irving’s fourth-quarter heroics and marveled that anyone could even approach the final-frame production we had seen just one year prior during Isaiah Thomas’ magical final season in green.
The story was fairly harmless. The headline was not.
Isaiah who? Why Kyrie Irving is Boston’s new king of clutch time
Thomas was, understandably, not pleased. He took to Twitter to vent (in a since-deleted Tweet), “Hahahaha I’m happy Kyrie playing well & they doing good. Don’t disrespect with the Isaiah who tho. You knows damn well who I am and what I’ve done!”
Could the headline have been gentler? Absolutely. But I don’t begrudge the editor who picked it. It’s their job to get people to click on the story. It certainly worked.
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A short time after the story ran, the Celtics assistant coach bumped into me grabbing lunch on the road in San Antonio and noted how Thomas had texted some Boston staffers in the aftermath to express his anger as well.
We tell this story now because 1) Five years later, we’re still racked with guilt and 2) It’s a little glimpse into how prideful Thomas is about Boston and what he accomplished here.
Which is why we couldn’t help but think about Brad Stevens after Thomas offered some emotional responses Tuesday while detailing how he’s hurt the Celtics haven’t brought him back despite opportunities in recent…