Life as a rookie in any professional sports league is going to come with its bumps along the way. Opposing players and coaches can sense blood in the water, and they'll go after the inexperienced player until they prove they can handle it.
That's exactly what happened to 76ers guard T.J. McConnell, who made his debut against the Celtics in October 2015. McConnell relayed how Brad Stevens and the Celtics attacked him right from the get-go in an appearance on the "Woj Pod" with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"It was one of the most embarassing moments of my life, and one of those gut-check moments where Isaiah Thomas, in my opinion one of the most unguardable guys that I've played against, and you got a coach like Brad Stevens — they called a play as soon as I checked in and Isaiah came off, scored. I come back down, Boston brings the ball back down, I look over at Brad [Stevens] and he goes ‘Again.’
"And Isaiah gets someone a lob. We go back down, don’t score and I look over at Brad and he goes ‘Again.’ I'm like 'Oh, my goodness gracious.' And Isaiah scores again.
"I think I got subbed out after that and I was like ‘Welcome to the NBA.’"
Thomas saw Woj's tweet about McConnell's story and had some kind words for the Sixers guard, treating him way better on Twitter than he did on the court that night at the TD Garden.
That’s my dude!!! One of the most genuine guys I’ve ever played against https://t.co/QGDtCPYRom— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) May 29, 2019
McConnell scored just four points in that debut game, a 112-95 Celtics victory, and it kicked off a pretty brutal stretch to kick off his NBA career. Philadelphia started that 2015-16 season with 18 straight losses, and hit Christmas with a ludicrous 1-30 record.
Now McConnell is the last remaining member of that squad, which ended the season with a 10-72 mark, and he's enjoying playing for one of the top teams in the East. But he won't forget that debut appearance when Stevens and Thomas left a lasting memory by torching the rook.
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