Isaiah Thomas was a fan favorite during his Boston Celtics tenure. He has Tommy Heinsohn in part to thank.
The iconic Celtics broadcaster, who died Monday at age 86, was a champion of the underdog and gravitated to players who played with passion and grit.
So, when Thomas came to Boston in February 2015 and played his way into a starting job, he quickly became a favorite of Heinsohn, who bestowed a fitting nickname on the 5-foot-9 point guard: "The Little Guy."
That nickname stuck with Thomas as he blossomed into an All-Star and helped lead the Celtics out of their rebuild -- and it was on Thomas' mind Tuesday when he heard of Heinsohn's passing.
Celtics Talk Podcast: Remembering Tommy Heinsohn | Listen & subscribe
Thomas joined several other former Celtics players who reacted to the sobering news on Twitter. C's legend Paul Pierce and ex-teammate Kendrick Perkins weighed in, as did recent Boston players Evan Turner and Shane Larkin.
Heinsohn's contributions to the Celtics extend well beyond broadcasting -- he won 10 total titles in Boston as a player and coach -- but his voice is an enduring part of a legacy that C's players will remember fondly.
UPDATE (4:20 p.m. ET): Celtics wing Jaylen Brown also shared a tribute to Heinsohn on Twitter.
Former Celtics forward and 1981 NBA Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell shared his thoughts on Heinsohn's passing as well.