By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Isaiah Thomas is back in Boston to face the Celtics for the first time since he was traded away nearly two years ago. And though his time in Boston did not end on the best of terms, Thomas wouldn’t be opposed to wearing Celtics green once again.

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“What happened in Boston happened for a reason, and that love’s going to last forever,” Thomas told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach on Sunday. “I was only here three years, but you’d think I was here 15 from the love that they showed me and the love that we gave each other. That’s all genuine. It was a city that needed something at that time, and I needed a team that believed in me. I’m a hard-working guy and played with my all, and that’s all the people here wanted. They expected greatness, and I wanted to show them greatness.”

While he wasn’t here long, Thomas showed small bursts of greatness during his time in Boston. Upon his arrival, he helped turn a team destined for the lottery into a playoff team. He was an instant spark for a team desperately in search of a scoring punch. The 5-foot-9 guard dazzled on the offensive end during his days with the Celtics, earning him a pair of All-Star nods. He often saved his biggest performances for the biggest moments, and was fittingly tabbed “The King in the Fourth.”

Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game in his final season with the C’s, and put on a postseason run that Boston fans won’t soon forget. On the eve of the 2017 playoffs, Thomas lost his younger sister, Chyna, when she was killed in a car crash. He played the next day with a heavy heart and scored 33 points in a losing effort, and averaged 23 points over Boston’s six-game series win over the Chicago Bulls. In the next series, Thomas had several teeth knocked out in the first half of Game 1 against the Washington Wizards, but that didn’t slow his scoring. He underwent emergency dental surgery and spent several hours in a dentist’s chair, returning to light up the scoreboard to the tune of 53 points in a dramatic 129-119 overtime victory for Boston in Game 2. That night just so happened to be his late sister’s birthday.

The Celtics beat the Wizards in seven games, with Thomas pouring in 29 points in the deciding Game 7. He aggravated a hip injury in Game 6 against Washington, but he played through the pain until it became too much in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thomas fought through a lot that postseason, but could finally battle no more. The Celtics lost in five games, and Thomas entered an offseason of recovery. But everything was turned upside down when Danny Ainge pulled off a blockbuster swap with the Cavaliers, sending Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a lottery pick to Cleveland for All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.

Thomas was stunned and obviously hurt. He had given the Celtics all he had over the last two-plus seasons, only to be shipped away from what he helped build in Boston.

“I was hurt, yeah,” he told the Globe. “I still think it was messed up. But at the end of the day it was a business decision by a businessman, which I understand. I just feel like how it went down, I was hurt by it. But time heals all, and time healed that. I’m not holding no grudge on anybody. That’s just not who I am.”

After a tumultuous season with the Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, Thomas signed a one-year deal with the Nuggets. But before agreeing in Denver, he reached out to Ainge and the Celtics to let them know he’d love to return if they had a spot for him. That didn’t work out, but with Thomas set to become a free agent again this summer, he has once again reiterated his interest in a possible reunion in Boston.

“You never know,” he said. “You can’t predict the future. My options are always open for anybody. I’m a Denver Nugget now, but I’m a free agent at the end of the season, and you never know what can happen. Who knows?”

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Thomas said the organization and city’s support after he lost his sister is a big part of why he loves Boston so much.

“This will always be home, this will always be like how [my hometown] Tacoma feels to me. It’ll always be something that’s bigger than basketball here, and I can’t thank this city and organization enough for that,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest thing for me, how this whole organization and city came together with me and were by my side when I grieved. The love and what I feel for Boston will never change because of that.”

Thomas is now in town with the Nuggets, though he’s recently fallen out of Mike Malone’s rotation as Denver battles for the top seed in the Western Conference. He’s played in just nine games this season as he’s worked his way back from injury, averaging 8.6 points off 37 percent shooting. He hasn’t played in Denver’s last three games, all Nuggets victories, and had to hit the Emerson floor for a pickup game over the weekend to get in some reps.

As has always been the case for Thomas, the final player drafted in 2011, he’s just looking for a chance to prove he still has it. He’d love to get that chance in front of Boston fans, but hasn’t pushed the matter with Malone.

“I know [the atmosphere] is probably going to be crazy,” he said of the TD Garden on Monday. “The fans are going to want to see me play. I’ve always been a guy like, ‘I’m going to show the people what they want.’ But at the end of the day, it’s Coach’s call. But if he calls my name, I’ll be more than ready.”

Thomas also isn’t certain if the Celtics will play the long-awaited video tribute that has caused so much drama since his departure. Thomas requested that the team hold off on playing the video on his first trip back with the Cavaliers last season, since Thomas wasn’t going to be playing in that game. The issue was that their next visit to Boston fell on the day Paul Pierce’s No. 34 was being retired, and Pierce didn’t want to share his day with Thomas. After that caused a bit of a stir, Thomas didn’t want the video to interfere with Pierce’s day (he was traded to Los Angeles a few days before his trip back to Boston anyways), and he hasn’t been back since.

There hasn’t been any buzz about a tribute this time around, and Thomas doesn’t sound very concerned about the matter anymore.

“If they don’t do anything, it’s still all love,” Thomas said. “If they do, it’d be cool, too. It’d be dope, because I put my heart, sweat, and tears, everything I had on that Garden floor for this organization. But I’m not expecting it.”

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Whether the Celtics play a video or not, Boston fans will certainly be sending plenty of love Thomas’ way Monday night. No matter how things ended, Thomas still has a lot of love for Boston, and the city and their fans feel the same way.