How has a man now 27-years-old, who was the 60th pick in the 2011 draft had such a profound effect on the Celtics after a less than remarkable career in Phoenix and Sacramento?
Isaiah Thomas believes it comes down to trust, and he sees Boston’s faith in him as the biggest game-changer in his and the franchise's fortunes.
Thomas said: “Them [Boston] embracing me for who I am. The organisation wanting me to be who I am and nothing else. They support me for who I am and I think that is the biggest difference. The opportunity was there for me to be the Isaiah Thomas I know how to be and I think that is the biggest thing. They love me for what I do and what I bring to the table.
It was from day one; not just Brad Stevens, but the players. When I played my first game against the Lakers, they were like, we are going to adjust to you. You go out there and play your game and it has been like that since that day.
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The Boston Celtics are the most successful franchise in NBA history – period. With 17 NBA championships and 21 Conference titles, the Celtics hold the record for most NBA titles, with their last coming in 2008 at the hands of the second most successful franchise in history, the LA Lakers.
The bulk of their long list of titles came in the 60’s with Bill Russell and in the 80’s with Larry Bird, two of the greatest to ever play the game.
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In recent years, it’s been a very different landscape for the Celtics. Since losing to the Miami Heat in the 2011-12 Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics have struggled with two low seed playoff finishes and in 2013-14, they missed the playoffs completely.
The ACL injury to then star man Rajon Rondo certainly set them back, but today another point guard sits at the Boston throne and he is leading the Celtics to an impressive season that precious few predicted.
That man is called Isaiah Thomas. No, not Isiah. Not the now 54-year-old, 12-time NBA All-Star famous with the Detroit Pistons.
This is the 27-year-old Isaiah Thomas, born in Tacoma, Washington and he earned his first NBA All-Star appearance in 2016.
Thomas may not be the poster boy like LeBron James or as decorated as his namesake, but after earning his first All-Star spot this year, Thomas is leading a new dawn in the Celtics legacy, one built on team mechanics and air-tight defence than star names.
Thomas has shown a propensity to take any game over this season, particularly showcased with his 36 points in a victory over the Clippers last week prior to All-Star weekend.
Thomas is exhibiting career bests in points and assists this term and his reliable offense has served as the base for the collective unit that has propelled the Celtics to the higher echelons of the Eastern Conference.
When Thomas arrived at the Celtics midway through last season the Celtic would win 22 of their remaining 34 games, indicating their dynamic point guard is the x-factor on the floor.
He’s managed to record career highs in points and assists this season – which is a point guards bread and butter – and he’s also registered four steals in December 2015 as well as eight rebounds, two statistics just shy of his career bests.
Could Thomas have achieved these feats and become an All-Star whilst still playing second fiddle to Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix? The Boston number four is perceptive, yet confident with his view.
Thomas said: “It would probably be a lot tougher. The situation I was in before was not like it is now. It would have been hard, but never say never.”
During his time with the Sacramento Kings, they languished at the bottom of the Western Conference never breaking 30 wins in a regular season and never threatening to get near the playoffs.
With the Phoenix Suns, Thomas started one game in 46. One.
Now with the Celtics, Thomas is registering an average of 21.5 points a night with 6.6 assists to boot. Boston is flying high in the East as they lie in third spot, with only a handful of wins behind the Raptors with last year’s conference champions the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat all trailing in their unexpected wake.
Team manager Danny Ainge deserves a lot of credit for finding a diamond in the rough and moving Marcus Thornton and a first-round pick to secure it. His talents may not have been glaringly evident in his early career, but with the green jersey on his back, Thomas is carving out his own, All-Star name.