Isaiah Thomas doesn't just think his hip injury paved the way for load management in the NBA, he knows it did.
As Thomas prepares for his real return to Boston, a city he spent two-and-a-half seasons in before he was traded to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade, he reflected on the hip injury that has derailed his career.
"I don't feel like it, I know I did," Thomas said when asked if he thought he took the bullet that has helped create load management. "That's players being smart about their body, worrying about themselves which you should. The most important thing is yourself."
Thomas was in the midst of one of the best offensive seasons in Celtics history when Karl-Anthony Towns fell on top of him and injured the All-Star guard's hip. Thomas decided to play hurt, knowing his team leaned on him for almost all of their offense.
When the injury continued to flare up during the playoffs, Thomas pushed on and led the Celtics to an Eastern Conference Finals berth after downing the Wizards in an epic seven-game series. Despite his hip injury causing major concerns for his long-term production, Boston traded him, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks for Kyrie Irving.
Thomas experienced a brutal 2017-18 campaign with the Cavaliers before he was traded to the Lakers midseason, and then eventually had to miss significant time on the Nuggets the following season after electing for hip surgery. Thomas never cracked the rotation in Denver, and now hopes to regain his place as one of the league's premier offensive threats in Washington, D.C.
"The organizations most of the time, they care about what you can do for them, they don't care if you get hurt," he said.
Playing hurt has cost Thomas a lot of money and his status in the league, which is something current NBA superstars aren't willing to risk.
Whether you agree with load management or not, the risk that comes with playing hurt, as we've seen with Thomas, far outweighs the benefits of a player like Kawhi Leonard playing both games of a back-to-back.
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