It's hard enough for professional athletes to deal with a sudden trade to another franchise in another city, but think about what it's like for the rest of their family. Players have a big adjustment, to be sure, but they're on the road for a lot of their season anyway, so it's a little easier to not think about changes in home life. Families have school switches, daily lifestyle changes, and all sorts of other things to worry about in the meantime.
But at least one NBA family member is excited about their dad's big move. Isaiah Thomas wrote a heartfelt tribute to Boston for The Players' Tribune on Wednesday, in which he thanked the city and the Celtics organization for embracing him as a leader. But there was one small note in there that stood apart from the rest, and it detailed a conversation Thomas had with his oldest son after finding out he'd been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The boys had been staying at my mom’s while Kayla and I were away, and so as soon as we got home from the airport, we FaceTimed them. I knew the news was bound to leak sooner or later, and I wanted to make sure that they heard it from me. And so I told them what had happened: Dad got traded.
James, my oldest — I guess he really is his father’s son, because he asked the same first question I did. "To where?"
"Cleveland. They traded me for Kyrie." And I’m pretty sure you know what came next.
"LEBRON! LEBRON JAMES! Dad — Dad. You get to play with LeBron James!"
With all due respect to Thomas' other son, Jaiden, James seems to know what the deal is. Though IT's life is about to change in a big way—and he's going to have to get used to wearing different jersey colors—his father now gets to play with one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the sport. It's an almost unfathomable come up for Thomas, who has gone from the final pick of his draft class to an integral piece in a championship contender, health permitting. His family clearly appreciates the moment as much as he does.
Playing with LeBron may not offset some of the hurt Thomas and his family feel from the trade, because there's a lot more to this than just who's on the court next to him. He took the court for the Celtics immediately after his sister died this spring, putting on a performance that elevated him to folk hero status in the city. And then, just a few short months later, Thomas was sent packing, booted from the spot at the top of the Boston totem pole he thought he'd earned.
He opened up about that part in his Players' Tribune piece as well, detailing the emotional reaction he had to being traded, as well as making an astute point about an NBA fan's perception of loyalty.
"There’s no hard feelings. But I just hope that the next time a player leaves in free agency, and anybody wants to jump on him or write a critical story or a nasty tweet about him, maybe now they’ll think twice," said Thomas. "Maybe they’ll look around the league, look at a case like mine, and remember that loyalty — it’s just a word. And it’s a powerful word if you want it to be. But man...when it comes to business, it ain’t nothing to count on."
He may not change anyone's mind there, but at least he can play with LeBron and make an earnest run for a ring this season. That's a pretty good consolation prize, and if nothing else, Thomas seems determined to prove all his doubters wrong.