Thomas wanted his tribute delayed until the night of Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony
Isaiah Thomas endeared himself to Boston Celtics fans in the short time he was there, but he probably doesn’t want to get into a competition with all-time Celtics legend Paul Pierce.
Now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thomas took some flak recently because he asked the Celtics not to play a video tribute for him during Wednesday night’s game, since he wasn’t playing. Instead he asked that Boston honor him during the next Cavs-Celtics game on Feb. 11.
Here’s the problem — that’s the night the Celtics will retire Pierce’s number. Pierce responded to the idea of a dual tribute on Thursday’s episode of “The Jump” on ESPN, and he didn’t seem too happy about it.
“I’m not saying Isaiah shouldn’t get a tribute video … but on Feb. 11, the night I get my jersey retired, I’m not sure I want to look up at the Jumbotron and see Isaiah highlights,” Pierce said.
Pierce added that when Kobe Bryant had his jersey retired, the Lakers showed highlights throughout the game during timeouts, not just during the ceremony. Presumably, Pierce thinks mixing in a tribute to Thomas would mess things up a bit.
“I enjoyed watching that (Kobe’s tribute videos) throughout the game,” Pierce said. “Hopefully the Boston Celtics will do that for me. I’m not sure I want to see an Isaiah video that night.”
Thomas has previously stated that he meant no disrespect with his request, and that he has no intention of taking anything away from Pierce’s big night.
“That’s Pierce’s night,” Thomas said, “but the video tribute ain’t the whole night. I just wanted my family to be here to see it. That’s what it came down to. I wanted to be able to play, and I wanted my family to experience the love and appreciation this city and this organization was going to give me on that night. When my representatives reached out to these guys, they were all for it, and they agreed on it.
“I don’t know why they’re so mad about it. I’m not taking nothing from Paul Pierce. He did 15 years here, so there’s nothing I can take from him. But if they choose to do it that night, that would be great, and I will be honored, and my family and friends can see how much they appreciated me here.”
Thomas played 179 games with the Celtics in two-plus seasons, breaking out last year with averages of 28.9 points and 5.9 assists before being dealt to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving over the summer.
Pierce averaged 21.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his 15 seasons with Boston, and was named the 2008 NBA Finals MVP. He’s also second behind John Havlicek on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list.