Before the Boston Celtics traded for him, 5'9" point guard Isaiah Thomas never quite received the respect that he deserved as a member of the Sacramento Kings and then the Phoenix Suns.
Spending the first three years of his career in Sacramento, Thomas' scoring average increased from 11.5 during his rookie year in 2011-2012 to 13.9 in his second year to 20.3 in his third season. However, likely due to his size, he was dealt to the Suns in a sign-and-trade for a very small return. The Kings received Alex Oriakhi, the 57th overall pick in the 2013 Draft as well as a $7 million trade exception.
Over 46 games in Phoenix during the 2014-2015 campaign, he put up 15.2 points per contest in just 25.7 minutes of run per game, but the Celtics were able to snag him mid-way through the season for Marcus Thornton and the Cavaliers' 2016 first-round draft pick.
As indicated by who he was traded for, Thomas' proven scoring ability took a backseat to the defensive liability that he posed due to his diminutive stature. He also didn't fit the mold of a traditional point guard since he was more of an aggressive, score-first type of player.
But, in Boston, everything changed.
He became the focal point of the team's offense and in many ways became the face of the franchise, filling the void that Paul Pierce left years before. Last season, not only did he average 28.9 points per contest, but he also led Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals.
He put the city on his back and started the playoff run just days after his younger sister was tragically killed in a car accident. Thomas didn't miss a single game (before he was injured in the Eastern Finals) and even went back-and-forth to his native state of Washington in between games to grieve with his family.
Despite his sacrifice and all that he gave the city, Boston's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made the tough decision to trade him just a couple months later as part of a package for Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, who had famously requested a trade out of Cleveland.
Thomas took some time to process the news, but then opened up about his feelings. He was obviously hurt. It was safe to say he wanted to stay in Boston for the long term.
Thanks to today's social age, on Wednesday, The Player's Tribune shared the exact moment that Thomas found out he was traded. Check it out below:
“That’s crazy," Thomas said when he first found out. "What are you talking about? My kids about to start school. After everything I went through, you’re not supposed to do that... But it’s… I mean, if that’s what he wants. Danny’s like that."
He later added, "I was hurt just because of everything that I’ve done for them. Everything that I went through, and continued to do for them when I could have just called it quits, gone home, and ended my season. I gave my heart to that city and organization.”
“But it’s like damn, after all I do for… the city gonna be mad as f--k," he predicted.
Celtics fans did react negatively to the deal at first, but since Boston now stands at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, it seems as though they've accepted Kyrie as their new point guard of the present and the future.
Meanwhile, Thomas seems eager to make his season debut, which could ironically come against the Celtics on January 3.
Since the Cavaliers and Celtics met in the season opener and Thomas missed it due to his injury, it'd be a fitting and revenge-filled start to his stint in Cleveland..