By: Jeffrey Newholm
While performing at his best in the 2017 season, when the Celtics earned the east’s top seed, point guard Isaiah Thomas quipped that someone would “bring the Brinks truck out” to pay him. But once again, the future did not work out as planned. After a playoff injury, Boston shipped Thomas to Cleveland as the main piece of the Kyrie Irving trade. It appeared to be a steal for the Cavaliers. The Cavs obtained a similarly talented guard who could start playing in December, along with other assets. But Thomas’s fall from grace continued as the Brinks truck drove further away.
Thomas entered the starting lineup after two months, but the offense struggled and a finals contender treaded .500 basketball. Tempers simmered directly under the surface and LeBron James, the team’s
owner and GM leading voice, quickly grew impatient. 65 times in 87 attempts, the exasperated Cavs announcers dictated, “Isaiah Thomas for three!…No.” Thomas was quickly trucked to Los Angeles for a virtual pittance. Thomas, who once exclaimed “I’m no sixth man”, backed up the point admirably, but not for a playoff team. With Rajon Rando and James signed to revitalize L.A., Thomas reportedly signed a one year veteran’s minimum with Denver.
Granted, $2 million will still fill most Brinks trucks. But Thomas must adjust to being a sixth man for a team that, while improving, has many faces to look up at. True, thousands of college players would kill to have a bench role in the pros. But the fleeting nature of Thomas’s glory serves a sobering reminder of how short one’s stay in the penthouse can be. With attention spans almost at zero, only the biggest names grab a ledge in American memories. If Thomas can’t regain his status as one of the league’s best guards, he will be further proof that proper play is done for the love of the game, not the most fleeting moments of acclaim.