While Monday marked the first time the current Denver Nuggets guard played in Boston since leaving the Celtics in 2017, Thomas did visit the Garden on February 11, 2018, while with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the former All-Star guard returned to the TD Garden on Monday evening as a member of the Denver Nuggets and, after a long and winding road, Thomas (finally) received his tribute video from the Celtics. But should it have happened a year earlier? "So that's why Boston means so much to me".
While it's wishful thinking that Thomas and the Celtics would have won a championship if the two parties remained together, it's unlikely considering the heaviness of Thomas' injury. Anybody - insider, outsider, topsider - that tries to tell you that they know what Irving's gonna do in July is talking out their ass.
Then again, that line of thinking probably motivates Thomas as much as anything else at this point, too. "Whatever the role may be, it's going to be". And on more than one occasion this season, I've found myself channeling my inner Jim Halpert with a, "Say what you will about [Isaiah Thomas], but he would never do that" in regards to something Irving's said or done as Boston's leader. "Given the opportunity, I can be an All-Star, All-NBA, I can be all that because I physically feel great". "I was just saying if the opportunity presents itself, just know I'm interested", said Thomas.
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"But it's all about the opportunity".
"I got my college jersey retired". Instead, the Celtics lost in five games in the Eastern Conference finals to the Cavaliers - a series of which Thomas missed the final three games because of the hip issues that have plagued him ever since. "That's my night. If you don't like it, then oh well".
When the video began on Monday night, Thomas, who had been riding an exercise bike in the tunnel, walked out to the court and watched it as the crowd rose to its feet. "But it was tough when it happened because it was out of nowhere, and I was hurt. I think if that business decision went down and I was healthy, I would've been fine with it because I would've been able to hoop right away". I mean, my teammates felt that, and they wasn't a part of that. "I was put in position for those things to happen. And I'm just happy to be back and around familiar faces and to really get that genuine, real love".