Isaiah Thomas
The Brinks Truck Never Came For Isaiah Thomas (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

More like the Tonka truck…

The 5 foot 9 dynamo, Isaiah Thomas, experienced the most horrifying fall from grace in sports history. I can’t think of a player in any sport who values crashed faster than the stock market during the Great Depression. In 2011 Isaiah Thomas was selected 60th overall by the Sacramento Kings with the very last pick of the draft. Isaiah spent three years in Sacramento and half a season in Phoenix before he was traded to the Boston Celtics on February 19th, 2015.

The Garden was Eden

In Boston he proved himself to be an above average scorer off the bench. He finished second overall in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award voting, averaging 19 points and 4 assists per game. Thomas was gaining momentum in his new Boston home. He quickly became a fan favorite because of his size and explosive scoring ability. Brad Stevens saw enough from Isaiah to give him the starting nod to begin the 2016 season.

Isaiah exploded into NBA stardom. He averaged 22 points per game, had seven triple-doubles, and lead Boston to a first-round playoff series loss to Atlanta. Boston kicked it up a notch the next season surpassing King James and the Cavaliers as the best team in the East. They were led by Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and of course Isaiah Thomas. The incredibly efficient Celtic team fed off the excitement that Thomas brought. It was incredible watching him completely control the game on fast breaks, blowing by defenders and finishing strong at the rim, making guys grip the floor on a step back three. He was electric. Even though Isaiah stood 5”9 on a great day and was an extreme defensive liability, the Boston Celtics soared to a 53 win season. Boston went on to battle Cleveland and lose in the Eastern Conference Finals. Isaiah played through a hip injury and a lot of pain during the playoffs. That would turn into the biggest mistake of his young career.

Pay up Danny

Isaiah’s hip injury was so bad that he couldn’t play the last three games of the 2016-2017 Eastern Conference Finals. In 2017 less than 12 months ago, Isaiah Thomas was a max contract player. He had surgery to repair his injured hip. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be a free agent until the summer of 2018.

On July 7th, 2017 Isaiah Thomas was asked about his contract expectations with the Celtics. In short, he uttered “My time is coming. They know they have to bring the Brinks truck out.” I understand Isaiah’s confidence. After all, he was only a few months removed from a career high 53 point playoff performance and leading his team in scoring for 32 straight regular season games. The Brinks truck quote was all the ammunition Danny Ainge needed to fire back. On August 22nd, 2017, only a month and a half after his “Bring out the Brinks truck” interview, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a 2018 first round pick were traded to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving.

 

Last summer Isaiah Thomas deserved a max deal. What a difference 10 months can make. It was idiotic to play through a serious hip injury a year before he was a free agent. He poured lighter fluid on the fire when he told Danny Ainge to be ready to clear his savings account next summer. After being bounced out of Cleveland and Los Angeles at the end of the 2018 season, Isaiah was lucky to sign a one year $2 million exception with the Denver Nuggets.

That’s Some Cheese – Episode 4 – 2.9.18

Even if he was healthy, he will never again be the guy who tantalized the Boston Garden.  Not because he isn’t capable, but because he isn’t playing for Brad Stevens and the Celtics. Boston’s system allowed him to showcase his talents and protected him with team defense. Brad Stevens created the perfect system to fit his miniature point guard. I’m not sure Isaiah realized how much of his success in Boston was the product of an ideal situation. Instead of telling Danny Ainge to back up the Brinks truck, maybe he should have been aware and thankful of the situation he stumbled into.

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