BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas grew up a Los Angeles Lakers fan. But he will tell you he didn’t have any choice on the matter.
“I told you I was brainwashed to want to be a Lakers fan,” Thomas told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “But I love being a Celtic. I’m fine being a Celtic.”
That was his pop’s favorite team, and so he followed suit.
“He was born and raised here,” said Thomas who added, “he’ll have Celtics stuff on (tonight). He’s not crazy.”
Now a Celtic, Thomas brings a rather unique perspective to tonight’s game between the two most storied franchises in NBA history who have combined to win 33 NBA titles (Boston with 17, the Lakers with 16).
Despite Boston (39-22) having one of the league’s top records while the Lakers (19-42) are at the opposite end of the winning spectrum, tonight’s game has major significance for both franchises.
“It’s always special,” Thomas told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “It’s the Lakers. Even if the Celtics weren’t good, it’s like playing back in Boston; it’s legendary. You have such great players who played here before.”
Boston comes in having won each of the last two games against the Lakers, but both were close despite the Celtics having the significantly better record leading into each matchup.
And their struggles haven’t been just a one or two-year thing, either.
The Lakers have had the second-worst record (57-168) in the NBA the last three seasons, with only Philadelphia (50-174) having a worst run of things in that period of time.
Avery Bradley is the longest-tenured Celtic having been drafted by Boston with the 19th overall pick in 2010.
He has been around long enough to recall when the Lakers were a title contender being led by Kobe Bryant in addition to the stretch prior to the last two Celtics victories, when Boston had lost five of six to the Lakers.
That’s why despite the Lakers not being among the better teams out West this season, there’s always a little extra incentive for Bradley to play well whenever he steps foot inside Staples Arena.
“It means something for me every time I’m in this building,” Bradley told reporters. “It’s always a rivalry game for me. I take pride going out playing hard as I can.
He added, “Celtics always want to come out on top against the Lakers.”