Wizards

Quick Links

Isaiah Thomas ready to return to Boston for first time as a starter

Isaiah Thomas ready to return to Boston for first time as a starter

WASHINGTON -- It is not easy to carve out a legacy with the Boston Celtics, the team that owns the most NBA championships (17) and the most Hall of Famers (33). Good players come and go. Only the greats are remembered.

Isaiah Thomas, though, left a unique imprint behind. He was the best player on a team that reached the conference finals, a small feat in the context of Celtics history. But the way he played and the way he persevered through off-court tragedy and injury endeared him to fans in a special way.

Thomas only played two-and-a-half seasons with the Celtics, but he feels secure in the memories he left as he looks ahead to Wednesday where he will return to Boston for the first time as a starter. Being in the Wizards' starting lineup, Thomas' name will be announced before the game. And he has a good feeling for how it will go.

"They're gonna cheer. They're definitely not gonna boo," he said. "I love them just as much as they do."

Thomas made two All-Star teams with the Celtics and earned All-NBA honors in the 2016-17 season. That year Boston outlasted the Wizards in seven games in the second round of the playoffs.

Late in the 2016-17 season, Thomas' final in Boston, he lost his sister, Chyna, in a car accident and he tore the labrum in his right hip. The injury has continued to affect his career in the years since, as he has yet to reclaim his All-Star form.

So far with the Wizards, Thomas has played well. He signed as a free agent in the offseason and this year has averaged 13.2 points and 6.2 assists while shooting 36.4 percent from three. 

He is looking forward to Wednesday as an opportunity to show he can still play at a high level in the arena he had his best NBA years.

"Before the game it will be all fun and games and after the game. But once the game starts, they're the enemy. I'm just gonna try to win," he said.

"I visualize going for 50 on them. That's the plan and to win the game. But I hope that night is not about me and it takes away from what this team is all about."

Most of the Celtics' roster has been turned over since Thomas left. The only two remaining teammates of his are Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. When asked for the scouting report on them, Thomas quipped about Smart: "he flops."

Thomas may not know most of the players on the roster, but he knows head coach Brad Stevens well. Stevens is considered one of the league's best coaches and Thomas can list the reasons why.

"I think it's his preparation," Thomas explained. "He puts every player on the roster in position for them to be the best player they can possibly be and that's tough. He has a great system. He's an overall great coach. It's tough to go up against a coach like that because he's unpredictable."

Now, this won't be the first time Thomas has returned to Boston. It is just the first time as a starter, but it is also at a point where he has made some notable progress on the court towards being the player he once was.

The Boston fans have cheered him since he left and he's looking forward to seeing them again.

"That was a special moment, for real," Thomas said of going back last year while he was with the Nuggets. "The love they showed me, you would have thought I won a championship and was there 10 years-plus. I was only there almost three years."

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas has missed the Wizards' last two games with a left calf strain and it sounds like he will be out at least a little while longer.

The Wizards guard caught up with NBC Sports Washington at his holiday toy giveaway at the Boys and Girls Club in Northwest D.C. on Saturday and gave an update on how he's feeling.

"I'm good," he said. "I think I will be out a few more games and then be able to come back."

Thomas nearly played on Thursday in the Wizards' home win over the Sixers, according to head coach Scott Brooks. He pleaded with the coaching staff to play, but was advised not to as a precaution.

Thomas categorized the injury in a similar way, that the team is just playing it safe.

"I always feel like I can play, but the medical staff wants to be cautious about it, knowing it's a long season. There's a bigger picture and I'm just listening to whatever they've got to say," he said.

Thomas, 30, is enjoying a career renaissance of sorts with the Wizards. He is averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 41 percent from three on 4.9 attempts per game.

With Thomas out, the Wizards have gone 1-1 with Ish Smith in his place in the starting lineup.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas likes to bring his sons with him just about wherever he goes. They walk with him into the Wizards' locker room, they shoot around on the court at Capital One Arena; he's even brought them to the podium for postgame interviews.

On Saturday, Thomas brought one of his sons to the Boys and Girls Club on 8th St. in Northwest Washington and for a specific reason. Thomas wanted him to help give back.

Just as Thomas was handing out toys to underprivileged youth, so was his son. The contrast was not lost on Thomas, who knows his son is well off as the kid of a millionaire NBA player. Not everyone is as fortunate.

"When I can do these types of things, I always want my kids to be around it," Thomas told NBC Sports Washington. 

"To be able to give back and see how blessed we are and how blessed he is and how we can put smiles on peoples' faces, especially around the holidays; it's definitely a point of emphasis to do that and bring my boys around to see it."

Thomas said his father instilled the same lessons in him when he was growing up in Washington state. Every Saturday morning at 6 a.m., his dad would take him to a shelter to serve breakfast to the homeless.

"That was something I was born into doing," Thomas said.

Thomas grew up going to the Boys and Girls Club himself and has partnered with them and World Vision throughout his NBA career to give back. Their efforts nationally have allowed him to continue the relationship no matter which team he has played for.

"Isaiah Thomas has been an amazing partner for World Vision," aid worker Brian Duss said. "Isaiah wasn't even in D.C. four days before he partnered with us at a school in [Southeast] to give away 400 backpacks filled with school supplies."

Before handing out toys and taking pictures with the children, Thomas addressed the crowd with a microphone. He spoke of his experience going to the Boys and Girls Club as a kid and explained the impact he hopes to make in the D.C. community.

"Whatever you need from me, I'm always here for you," he said. "I hope everyone has a happy holidays."

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: