Boston Celtics: To root or not to root for Isaiah Thomas

BOSTON, MA - MAY 2: Isaiah Thomas
BOSTON, MA - MAY 2: Isaiah Thomas /

Fifty-three points, one missing tooth while playing through tragedy. The entire city of Boston and the Celtics organization was behind Isaiah Thomas.

After Game 2 of the Wizards-Celtics playoff series last May, Isaiah Thomas was well on his way to becoming one of the best and most popular athletes in Boston history. In an overtime victory over the Wizards, “The Little Guy” had his best performance yet as a Celtic.

The win gave the Boston Celtics a 2-0 advantage in a series they would go on to win in seven games. From that moment on, and really the whole season, Celtics fans were ready to see Isaiah in green for the rest of his career.

An amazing season capped off by an amazing playoff run had solidified Isaiah Thomas as the next face of the franchise for Boston.

That feeling continued through the beginning of the summer. The Celtics signed Gordon Hayward, much to Isaiah Thomas’ pleasure.

Then everything changed. The future that all Celtics fans and even Isaiah himself had envisioned was now just a dream.

The blockbuster trade that changed it all

On August 23, Isaiah Thomas was traded for Kyrie Irving. Just like that, his Boston career was over.

After the immediate shock wore off, Celtics fans were ultimately satisfied with the trade. Isaiah meant so much more to the city, but Kyrie was a better player. Most fans understood that Danny Ainge made the right decision in picking the player who would be more likely to lead the Celtics to a championship. On paper, the trade made sense.

That was until Isaiah Thomas took the floor for the Eastern Conference rival, LeBron James led Cavaliers a few weeks ago.

Up until then, Isaiah was sidelined with an injury suffered in last year’s playoffs. Even after the trade, Isaiah Thomas in another uniform hadn’t really sunken in. Here we were watching Kyrie Irving leading the Boston Celtics to the best record in the East while our leader last year played cheerleader on the bench.

Now a rival

On January 2, Thomas played 19 minutes and scored 17 minutes in a win over the Trailblazers. Watching as a Celtics fan, it felt wrong. Isaiah shouldn’t be running the fast break and throwing alley-oops to LeBron. He shouldn’t be wearing that red headband. I half expected him to come out of the locker room in a Cetics jersey.

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Maybe its just because of the team he was traded to. Maybe its just the simple fact that you don’t root for players on a rival team. But for the first time, I found myself rooting against the player I had watched dominate on a nightly basis. For the first time, I wanted the ultimate underdog, last pick in the draft, looked over by every team, THAT guy to lose.

All offseason, thousands of Celtics fans made sure everyone on their Twitter timeline knew that they would still support Isaiah no matter what. No matter what happens, Isaiah was our guy and Boston had his back. Even if the Cavs and Celtics were battling for a number one seed. Even if he was playing with LeBron. Even if he swore vengeance on a team and city he onced loved.

Even if a top five Celtics player called him out for a stupid video tribute controversy? Even if the two battled for a spot in the NBA Finals?

Simply, don’t root for him

Look, I’m not saying you should hate Isaiah Thomas. If he had things his way, he would still be in Boston leading the Celtics to another one seed in the East. Tons of fans, myself included, would have wanted nothing more than to see Isaiah raise an NBA Finals trophy and maybe even see #4 in the rafters one day.

Don’t burn Isaiah’s jersey, but don’t root for him either. On the court, he is an opponent who the Celtics will almost certainly have to go through to reach the NBA Finals. In a weird way, I think that’s what Isaiah is doing and what he would want us fans to do.

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He still has a place in his heart for Boston, as we do for him. But now we’re on opposite sides of the battlefield.

Cheer for him when he gets his tribute. WIsh him the best in his off the court affairs. Just don’t act like he is still on the team.