– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
BOSTON — Not that it would have been easy, but the original plan in how to fill this space after the Boston Celtics picked up a Game 1 victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington Wizards was put into the perspective the performance of Boston’s All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who once again befuddled the Wizards with his 33 points and nine assists, doing so less than 24 hours after delivering the eulogy at his sister’s funeral in the state of Washington. Writing about the emotional and physical agony someone is undergoing because of personal loss is not unfamiliar territory – especially since I had to do so with my own loss in a public forum just a few years back – but no adjective that this reporter can come up with in describing the emotional pain present while continuing to perform at a high level in his escape (NBA basketball) would feel sufficient, especially being so far removed from his world right now.
Instead, it might be best to have those on the court with Thomas – some of them having been around Thomas during the hardest moments of his life right now – describe what they have been seeing from Isaiah over the past two weeks.
Here were some of the thoughts shared postgame about Isaiah Thomas after the Celtics’ win today.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens: “I’ve said it before, but I’ve been in continual amazement over the last couple of weeks with his ability to function on the basketball court and excel on the basketball court. And today is just another chapter of that. Just amazed.”
Stevens, when asked if he was feeling sympathy for Thomas after he had his tooth knocked out during the game: “I think that, you know, obviously that hurts and that’s not fun, but in comparison to what he’s gone through – even he was laughing and pseudo-smiling about it there, for a while. But I think that, like I said before, what he’s been able to do is – I think I’ve used the word unfathomable, and I’d stick with that. I can’t imagine being able to do it myself, if I were in the same situation, and it’s an incredible – he’s incredible.”
Boston Celtics center Al Horford: “It was unreal. Everything that’s going on for him off the court and for him to still be able to function at this level – just a strong character. His will is very impressive. I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it in that way and he’s able to come in here and say no excuses, but he has a perfectly good excuse and he still comes out, he’s focused and he flew back with us from Chicago yesterday. He didn’t linger at all and it’s just a credit to him and his way to get prepared for the game.”
Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks: “I think the biggest thing you can say is that he’s the biggest winner. He’s one of the biggest winners in this league. He just plays with everything he has. That’s what you want your players to do. He’s an incredible talent…one of the best players in basketball.”