Like clockwork, after Isaiah Thomas was traded by the Celtics to the Cavaliers, a national reporter tried to drag the player through the mud using anonymous sources. FS1's Chris Broussard cited anonymous league GMs who cited anonymous Celtics who said Isaiah wasn't beloved in the locker room.
Immediately and overwhelmingly, various Celtics teammates of Isaiah fought back. Also, common sense fought back. We had not once seen signs of strife within these Celtics, despite a Boston sports media built to identify and thrive on drama.
This happened when Isaiah left Phoenix and Sacramento, as well. When the Kings elected not to re-sign him, the real reason was that they didn't believe he was actually good. Someone tried to peddle the nonsense that he and DeMarcus Cousins clashed. (Spoiler alert: Cousins clashed with everyone.) When traded to the Celtics less than a year later, he somehow won some of the taint that Goran Dragic ought to have carried as the real disgruntled point guard of Phoenix.
So why is Isaiah a magnet for this nonsense?
My theory: there is an externalized impostor syndrome with Isaiah. He doesn't look the part, so people try to find reasons to question his efficacy. As his game has developed and he's become one of the most potent scorers in the NBA, the basketball reasons to question his ability have dissipated. You can always question his defense; that's harder to do with a straight face when he's being traded for Kyrie Irving. The same applies to his score-first nature.
So these anonymous GMs and their sources — almost assuredly not actual teammates of Isaiah — create some other way to question his value. He isn't the most giving point guard, so it's easy to connect the next set of dots: his teammates must hate him! Get a couple of fools to repeat that to someone who pours their sources' words directly into the inkwell, and you have A Narrative.
Only because Isaiah is such a good teammate has everyone (including Boston media) rushed to call bull puckey. If he were perhaps only an average good person and teammate, the narrative might stick.
In any case, Isaiah will get unfairly dragged again for something else, largely because he's a 5'8 All-NBA player who isn't supposed to be this darn good. Keep that in mind as we watch what unfolds in Cleveland.
I answered 13 questions about the blockbuster trade. Here's how Danny Ainge went from Paul Pierce to Irving in five easy trades. Paul Flannery wrote an excellent piece on the end of the Nets Picks era in Boston. Jae Crowder is exactly the role player LeBron James needs. Tim Cato writes on the difficulty of evaluating Ainge. The Cavaliers got everything they could have wanted out of this trade. Winners and losers from the deal.
Apparently, the Cavaliers tried to swap Irving for Klay Thompson. We need to know more.
The Nets might be better this year, which hurts the Cavaliers since they now have the Nets' pick.
Good point by Marc Spears: heckuva first big deal for new Cleveland GM Koby Altman.
What Kyrie meant to Cleveland.
Kyrie is free.
Unpacking the deal from Boston's perspective.
I enjoyed this Sam Amick piece on the NBA's quest to catch the NFL.
Stop burning jerseys when your favorite NBA player leaves town.
Rookies think Dennis Smith, Jr. will be the Rookie of the Year. Counterpoint: rookies have apparently only guessed R.O.Y. correctly once since 2007, which actually seems quite difficult to pull off.
This is interesting. Per Adrian Wojnarowski, Andrew Wiggins' agent Bill Duffy negotiated a 5-year max extension for the Young Wolf. Then, before signing the deal, Wiggins filed paperwork to terminate his relationship with Duffy. The agent alleges tampering from other folks. But NBA players' union rules ensure Duffy would get paid on a deal he negotiated. It's all so very weird.
Cryptic comments from Jerry West about not wanting to leave the Warriors.
Here are all of the classic teams in NBA 2K18. How does 2K come up with player ratings?
Interesting piece from Sam Rosen about a utopian basketball league that may never launch.
Rashard Lewis is your 2017 BIG3 MVP! Shout out to Clippers greats Cuttino Mobley and Al Thornton for their awards too. Stephen Jackson's award — Best Trash Talker — is totally unsurprising.
Oh, dear. I fear this Paul Pierce wax statue is the true bad teammate.