Isaiah Thomas’s open letter to the city of Boston is exactly what Derek Jeter had in mind when he started The Players’ Tribune after retiring from the Yankees: a platform for athletes to speak directly to the fans. No middleman, no reporters twisting words; just facts straight from the horse’s mouth.
And that’s what fans got: a candid, unfiltered glimpse into IT’s world after Danny Ainge turned it upside down by trading him to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. In an offseason of tectonic shifts — Chris Paul to Houston, Paul George to OKC — the IT-Kyrie trade was an order of magnitude above the rest.
Unquestionably the messiest sports break-up in recent memory, Kyrie’s desire to get out of LeBron’s shadow set in motion a chain of events that led to Celtics “fans” burning Thomas’ jersey. It was ugly. So ugly that LeBron, a guy who’s been famous for his entire adult life and never f–ked up, broke character and went on a Twitter rant to g-check entitled fans and let lil bro (IT) know that the King had his back.
Through all of it, no one asked Isaiah how he felt. He’s the one whose jersey they burned — after he led them to the best record in the Eastern Conference, played in the playoffs after his sister Chyna died in a car accident, and dropped 53 points on the Wizards.
Enter The Players’ Tribune, and Isaiah Thomas’ open letter titled “This is for Boston.”
He talks about getting the call from Danny Ainge and being blindsided by the news; not knowing how to react.
“But yeah, I’ll just say it: That sh-t hurt. It hurt a lot.
“And I won’t lie — it still hurts.”
Isaiah Thomas on being traded
He talks about the double standard players face relative to owners; how the fans and media will turn on you; how loyalty is just a word.
“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.
“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 talks about how the city of Boston helped him deal with his sister’s death.
Then they did a moment of silence, the whole arena, in Chyna’s honor. And it was like … man. I just realized, in that moment, that I didn’t need the court to shield me.
I didn’t need to block it all out, and pretend I wasn’t grieving. I didn’t have to be alone in this. The whole arena was right there with me. Honestly, it felt like the whole city of Boston was with me.
He talks about how a text from Tom Brady helped put things in perspective.
But then I thought about the text some more … and I think I changed my perspective a little. I think I realized that, like, Yo — that’s Tom F–king Brady. And I was only here for two and a half years. Tom Brady isn’t sending a text like that to guys who played in Boston for only two and a half years — unless they did something very special.
For all the IT fans out there, it tugs at the heartstrings. But you can tell there was catharsis in writing it, because there’s catharsis in reading it. And you know what? IT’s gonna be just fine in Cleveland.