By Joe Giza, WBZ-TV Sports Producer
BOSTON (CBS) — Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving will always be connected, part of a trade that reshaped the Celtics and Cavaliers for better or worse.
Having Isaiah back in Boston on Monday night, it’s truly amazing to see how much he still loves Boston, and Boston still loves him. You get the feeling he would do anything to play here again.
Meanwhile, there have been times this season where it felt like Kyrie would rather play anywhere but Boston. We all know by now that Irving told season ticket holders before the season started that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics in the summer, only to walk it back a bit in the middle of the season by telling everyone to ask him about his future on July 1st.
From a fan’s perspective, I wish that Kyrie could love Boston as much as IT, but that’s really not possible. And it’s not really fair.
Thomas came to the Celtics without much fanfare, a 5-foot-9 guard who was doubted most of his life. But Thomas took Boston by storm, unexpectedly leading the Celtics out of rebuild mode to the brink of the NBA Finals. He become an All-Star along the way, and then dazzled with legendary playoff performances. This is where Isaiah became the “King in the Fourth.” He’s one of the reasons the C’s were able to sign high profile free agents such as Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. He bled green as much as one could.
Kyrie on the other hand came to Boston already a superstar, a former No. 1 overall pick, who hit the series-winning shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to finally bring a championship to Cleveland (that’s right, it was Kyrie and not LeBron). It hasn’t been quite the same for Kyrie in Boston. He missed a deep playoff run in his first season because of injuries, and this year, the team has had difficulty jelling and reaching their potential. Kyrie can’t feel the same about playing Boston, because he hasn’t had anything even close to that kind of glory here, to tie in that kind emotion.
Plus, Isaiah and Kyrie are just different people, with different personalities, and different ways of expressing themselves. Just because IT wears his heart on his sleeve, it doesn’t mean Kyrie will or has to, even if we’d like him to. We all want the players to say they want to stay here forever, and some guys do say that (some even mean it!). Others don’t, whether it be they don’t want to give up leverage in contract negotiations, or they don’t want to paint themselves into a corner (which is kind of what Kyrie did by making his declaration to the season ticket holders), or they just don’t want to stay here and don’t want to get badgered for it.
(On a related note, players aren’t really obligated to stay here forever. They can go wherever they want, for whatever reasons. It’s true — look it up!)
The best way to help a Celtics player bleed green is a deep dramatic playoff run. Maybe with a duckboat parade at the end. Isaiah was never able to experience the latter part here, but Kyrie still has a chance. And Irving has that chance with this organization because of what Thomas started. No matter what, they are two players that will always be connected.