Sunday, April 16 – Bulls at Celtics
Pregame – Thomas Intends to Play Through Tragic Circumstances
BOSTON – Yesterday afternoon, on the eve of Boston’s postseason opener, All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas received tragic news that his 22-year-old sister, Chyna Thomas, had passed away in a one-car accident in their home state of Washington.
Roughly 24 hours later, he is trying to gather his strength to play through the devastating circumstances, as his Celtics host the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Thomas managed to go through Boston’s walkthrough this afternoon and intends to play, according to Brad Stevens, though it was clear to the coach that he’s having difficulty overcoming his emotions.
“He’s struggling,” Stevens said ahead of the 6:30 p.m. tip-off. “Obviously it’s tragic circumstances that he and his family are going through right now, and our thoughts are first and foremost with all of them.
“I think his intention is to play,” Stevens continued. “We talked a little bit last night and then again today about as he goes through it and if he feels like he needs to not [play], then whatever he wants.”
One positive in this situation is that Thomas is surrounded by a tremendously supportive cast of teammates and coaches, who have all reached out to express their sympathy over the last 24 hours.
“It’s a very close-knit team and he’s a big part of it,” said Stevens. “Isaiah is a great teammate. Isaiah is a great husband. He’s a great father. He is a great guy, a great son and brother. And I think ultimately we all tried to do our part and let him know we’re thinking about him. Anything we could all do to help, we do it. This particular situation with his family takes precedent over everything else going on, and we’re here for him if he needs us.”
On top of that, if Thomas does play, he will also be backed by thousands of loving, compassionate fans who will pack TD Garden to the rafters.
“I don’t think there’s any question that people around here have a great affinity for him,” said Stevens. “Even in my short time here, when you see the really tough things happen to people, this community really rallies around them. You can already feel that.
“As I was at church this morning, people were coming up to me and they all wanted to know how he was doing and they were all talking about him. And when you get here (to the arena), that’s all everybody wants to talk about. I think it’s going to be really emotional, and that’s part of what makes this place really special. They get it, and I think they really appreciate Isaiah, and I know Isaiah really appreciates everybody here.”
– Taylor C. Snow