Everyone has their own opinion of where and when the Wizards' bitter rivalry with the Celtics in 2016-17 all began.
You could point to Jae Crowder booping John Wall's nose, or Wall's confrontation with Marcus Smart, or even Crowder's history with ex-Wizards coach Randy Whitman. But the real start, the culmination of all those isolated events came on January 24, 2017. The Funeral Game.
It was a statement win for the Wizards. They buried Boston 123-108 and left a sour taste in the mouths of Celtics players like Isaiah Thomas, who joined Chris Miller on the Wizards Talk Podcast to talk about his team's own attempt at a Funeral Game and how intense the Celtics-Wizards rivalry really was.
Thomas' Celtics went back and forth with the Wizards in the second round of the playoffs. The home team won each of the first five games heading into Game 6, and the two-time All-Star wanted to add another level of intrigue to the closeout game.
"I send a text out to everybody before we leave Boston," Thomas said. "Everybody wear black because we're going to a funeral and we're gonna end it [in Washington].
"Nobody knew but the players," he said. "So then everyone wore black and when everybody walked in, people started to talk. Then when we ended up losing and John hitting the game-winner and him doing the interview after he's like, 'Don't ever wear black in my city.' I'm like [busts out laughing]."
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Game 6 was an instant classic. The Celtics played well enough to win the game, Thomas was excellent down the stretch and Beal kept the Wizards in it by scoring 33 points. Everything came down to the Wizards' final possession and Wall delivered with a game-winning three to send the series to a seventh game.
Boston ended up winning the series so Thomas can look back on everything fondly, but there's no denying how intense the rivalry really was. In a season that featured Kevin Durant's first with the Warriors and Russell Westbrook's triple-double tour, the Wizards and Celtics took center stage whenever they crossed paths on the floor.
It got so heated that according to Thomas, his friendship with a couple of Wizards players took a considerable hit during the playoffs.
"John's one of my close friends, like, I didn't even talk to John in the series," he said. "Markieff [Morris] is one of my close friends too from when we played on Phoenix and during that series, I didn't think we would ever talk again with how crazy it got."
We're about three years removed from that fateful series, with Wall, Beal and Ian Mahinmi as the only remaining Wizards from that season. In Boston, it's only Smart and Jaylen Brown. Thomas even played for the Wizards this season after stops with the Cavaliers, Lakers and Nuggets.
In today's NBA, rivalries fade as fast as they develop, which makes feuds like the Wizards and Celtics that much more enjoyable when taking a trip down memory lane.
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