Today, September 7, 2017, you were introduced as a Cleveland Cavalier. Your facial expressions said it all. You shouldn’t have been there, holding up your brand new Nike-edition Cavaliers’ jersey. Your real number isn’t 3, it’s 4. But it’s only fitting that you left number four in Boston, just like you left every ounce of sweat and every breath you had left at the TD Garden. Nobody thought it would end this way. I was always hoping you would retire as a Celtic, but that dream got shattered to pieces. My heart sank to my stomach when I saw the rumors of you getting traded. And when it finally happened, I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to be left alone. It still hurts. It still really hurts.
On February 19, 2015, you were traded to Boston in exchange for Marcus Thornton and a first-round pick. As soon as I saw Boston pulled off a last second deal, and who it was for, I knew we lucked out. The fact that we got a player with as much upside and talent as you for basically nothing was a crime. Defined as a journeyman coming to Boston, we didn’t know how long this relationship would last. Boston was rebuilding, you came in to help save us from irrelevancy. Long story short, you made us relevant.
In your first game as a Boston Celtic, you were ejected. I remember watching this late-night game on a school night (Monday). It was played in Los Angeles, so it started around roughly 10:30 EST. But it was your debut, so I knew I had to watch it. Anyways, when you were ejected in the fourth quarter, right when we needed you most, I found myself being more hyped up than pissed off. We went on to lose that game, and your ejection was a huge reason why, but I wasn’t going to let one loss endanger the beginning of our relationship. I was as happy as could be when you were ejected because you showed something no Celtics player had shown in a long, long time, and that was heart. At the time, it was hard being a Celtics fan, but you came in and immediately changed that. You gave Boston fans hope and optimism that we were headed in the right direction. From a team that was supposed to land at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, you led us to the playoffs in your first few months here. It was then that you showed Boston that you weren’t here for a rebuild, or to just be that guy to come in and score. No, you came here to win. Because of that mentality, you became a superhero to us.
In your two-and-a-half seasons in Boston, you led us to the playoffs every single season. You led a group of overachieving players who had no business being in the position they were in to new heights. You were the heart and soul of the Celtics for the past three years. I know the term “heart and soul” is overused, but there really is no better way of describing what you meant to Boston. Every night you fought, no matter the circumstances. Whether it was a hip injury, or having your tooth knocked out, or your sister tragically passing away the day prior, you kept fighting because that’s all you knew. When times get tough, and life seems unfair, you just keep fighting. You stood for us, and we stood behind you and had your back through it all. The respect you gave us bounced right back to you. Every cheer, every Isaiah chant, and EVERY MVP chant, you earned. You were OUR MVP. You put Boston on the map again. You made the Celtics what they are today.
Before we ultimately go our separate ways, I must be honest with you. You said that this hurt. You stated that this STILL hurts. Well, it may hurt your fans just a bit more than it hurts you. In your short time in Boston, you became a legend. You finished as technically the BEST SCORER IN CELTICS’ HISTORY. “Isaiah, the highest points-per-game scorer in Celtics’ history, ” is a real thing. Your rise to superstardom was nothing but inspiring. You quickly became MY FAVORITE CELTIC. I even bought your jersey dude. I NEVER BUY JERSEYS. THAT MEANS YOU WERE SPECIAL TO ME. With your jersey still hanging on my bedroom wall, I’ll always recollect you as a Celtic and have flashbacks at all the contested threes, game winners, and all the impossible layups that went in but had no reason whatsoever to go in. You made more memories for Celtics’ fans in less than three years than some players make in ten years. You were special to us; you were special to me. I will continue to defend you till the day I die, because you are a superstar. You are an MVP. You emphasized what it meant to be a Boston Celtic. I don’t care what it says on the front of your jersey. I’ll continue to look at your jersey and remember where you came from. You are a Celtic for life.
This is starting to sound like a rough breakup after two-and-a-half years, but it’s time to go our separate ways. At the end of the day, I’m a Celtics’ fan. I’ll always cheer for you and pray that you find a permanent home in the NBA, but being a Celtics’ fan comes first. I’ll cheer for you, but not when it’s against us. I won’t lie to you, I’m not looking forward to the day we meet in the Eastern Conference Finals when you drop 35-40 points, and the dagger shot to put an end to our season. Cleveland fans will be astonished and won’t believe what they’re witnessing. I’ll just be sitting there and saying to myself, ‘Yup, that’s Isaiah.’
Maybe one day our paths will cross again, but until then, I wish you nothing but the best in your bright future. One day when I have kids, and they ask me about the best basketball players I watched growing up, you will be the first name that comes to mind. Isaiah Thomas: Superstar. MVP. Legend. Celtic Forever.
Your Biggest Fan