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- Isaiah Thomas received a warm welcome in his return to Boston on Wednesday as the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Boston Celtics.
- Thomas expressed love for the city and its fans, and even hinted that he had buried the hatchet with Celtics President Danny Ainge.
- While Thomas did not play in the game, the teams are set to meet again in February for what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Isaiah Thomas got a standing ovation in his return to Boston on Wednesday night.
Thomas, who played for the Cavaliers the previous night against the Blazers but was out of the lineup for Cleveland’s matchup against the Celtics, received a warm welcome when he was shown on the Jumbotron at the TD Garden before the start of the second quarter.
Ahead of his return, Thomas had requested that the Celtics forgo playing a tribute video they had prepared for the former Boston point guard. But even without a video to cue them, the crowd was still ready to thank him for his time with the team.
“I wasn’t expecting nothing to happen, especially this time with them asking not to do the tribute,” Thomas said after the game, per ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “But [the fans] showed their true colors, like they always do, and that’s – I keep saying it, but it’s genuine love on both sides. The fans are everything here.”
The Celtics took care of the Cavaliers comfortably with a 102-88 victory, but Thomas was still loose the whole game, trading barbs with his former teammates on the opposing bench. He even joked that he almost entered the Celtics locker room ahead of the game, having grown so accustomed to walking through the Garden in previous seasons.
After the game, Thomas expressed his thanks to the city and its fans while speaking with reporters.
Isaiah Thomas: No hardfeelings to anybody in this organization pic.twitter.com/hERzFxAhCu
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) January 3, 2018
Thomas also received praise from his former coach Brad Stevens, who had nothing but kind things to say of his former All-Star. “First and foremost, I will always value him as a friend and person I got to be teammates with,” Stevens said. “It’s what you appreciate the most about team sports. Lost among all the talk about where people play and everything else is the fact that you did get to compete together. I appreciated that about him.”
Thomas even indicated that he had buried the hatchet with Celtics president Danny Ainge, whom he had held resentment for after this offseason’s blockbuster trade sent him to Cleveland in exchange for Kyrie Irving. Of Ainge, Thomas said simply, “He texted me last night, so yeah, we’re good.”
Fans who are still eager to see Cleveland and Boston face each other at full strength needn’t wait too long – the teams will meet again in Boston on February 11 in what well could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals.