Column disclaimer: The holdup on the Isaiah Thomas/Kyrie Irving trade had me a tad nervous. My mind immediately leapt to thinking IT had a Bo Jackson level bad hip injury. Initially it felt like the IT/Celtics divorce would be delayed and that kind of bad blood is never good. If IT had stayed on the ’17-’18 Celts I think they would’ve beaten the imploding Cavs and lost to GS in 5.
Kyrie Irving is finally on his way to Boston. It’s as if his flight to Logan Airport was delayed due to weather. In a little while we’ll see him putting on the green jersey. The team gave up a fair chunk to get him, but the deals to get stud players historically tend to work out. Zizic is supposed to be a useful NBA center, IT is a fine scorer, Crowder is a useful role player and the odds say the Brooklyn pick will be pretty high.
I’m thrilled Kyrie is here. He’s an excellent scorer, fine shooter, 3 point aficionado with the clutch gene to win games. His injury history is somewhat troubling, but I’m confident it can be managed. Coaches give guys nights off to preserve their health and I’ve come to accept that. My base line expectation is for NBA players to play at least 70 games a year, and I bet we’ll get that with Irving. The new environment, coach and surrounding talent will mask his defensive deficiencies. The comparisons of him to Penny Hardaway are legit and I think they could pass for father and son.
Yet none of that matters now. All I can think of is Isaiah and how I will miss him. He was one of those rare guys you felt like you could relate too. Normally I love watching sports because you see genetic freaks apply their unique skills to entertain you. Thomas was the opposite of all that. He’s built like a regular guy who can blend into a crowd. On offense he’s quick, agile and fast with amazing technique. His offensive skill was remarkable. At any time he could easily stutter step, create some space and drop 30 on just about everybody.
IT seems like a likable guy you couldn’t help but root for. 2016 – 2017 IT is seared into my memory yet, I’m not shocked he’s gone. He became a fan favorite who went from a useful bench scorer to an MVP candidate. He got hurt and played in the playoffs less than 100 percent. It tore my heart up when his sister passed away and yet he soldiered on. Deep down I don’t think he’s the best guy on a championship team. His defense is just bad enough. I’d put him a tier below true franchise guys like LeBron, Steph Curry, KD, Dirk, Kobe etc. Thomas would be an amazing 2nd banana on a championship team.
So long IT. It was amazing to watch the last guy picked in the draft turn into a legit NBA All Star.
Good luck in Cleveland!
Erik Mazelli - Senior Tozofitsports Columnist
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