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Isaiah Thomas: 'Best Year of My Career, Worst Year of My Life'

Isaiah Thomas: 'Best Year of My Career, Worst Year of My Life'
Published On: Wed, Oct 11
Apr 28, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

A green-and-gray mini basketball sits on a bed of sand-colored rocks next to the pool in the backyard. The ball belongs to five-year-old Jaiden Thomas, son of Isaiah Thomas, whose name and image grace the side of it. Jaiden brought the ball from Boston to Cleveland, a reminder that his father used to play for the Celtics and played so well they sold souvenirs with his picture on them. Jaidens family does not have a hoop at their new home in Westlake, Ohio, a two-story brick traditional with a circular driveway framed by oak trees. So if they want to shoot, they cross the quiet street to the Strong residence. Excuse me, Isaiah said, when he first knocked on the Strongs front door one overcast afternoon in late September. Can we use your hoop?

Joyce Strong laughed because nobody had put a ball through that rusted rim since her daughter, Terry, moved out a couple decades ago. And she apologized because at some point a snow plow rammed the black stanchion, knocking the basket slightly off-center. That sounds perfect, Isaiah replied. As he and Jaiden fired jumpers from the Strongs cement slab, Joyce and her husband took stock of their affable new neighbors. I think thats the point guard the Cavs just got, Tom said, looking for the local newspaper to provide confirmation. I dont know, Joyce responded. Isnt he too small?

For six years NBA officials asked the same question, until last season, when Thomas provided a definitive answer. No, he is not too small, and yes, the Kings were foolish to bench him and the Suns senseless to trade him and others irresponsible to overlook him. At 5'9", Thomas averaged the most points in the Eastern Conference, putting up totals Kyrie Irving would envy: 41 against Detroit and Portland, 44 against Toronto and Memphis, 52 against Miami and 53 against Washington. The Wizards outburst came in the second round of the playoffs, six weeks after Thomas injured his hip at TD Garden, when he attempted a layup over four Timberwolves and 7-foot center Karl-Anthony Towns crashed down on top of him. But the Celtics were scrapping for the No. 1 seed in the East. Thomas wanted to play. Then his 22-year-old sister, Chyna, died in a car accident on April 15, the day before Game 1 of the first round. Thomas needed to play.

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