The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers visited Boston, the Celtics held off on a planned tribute video to former player Isaiah Thomas, who missed the game through injury. The only other opportunity to give the Boston crowd a chance to recognize their former point guard is on February 11. There’s just one problem though, as that game is already scheduled to be a celebration of Paul Pierce’s career, as the Celtics retire his number.
Pierce ain’t having it, though.
According to this ESPN report, Pierce spoke with Celtics management and told them he didn’t want any of the focus shifted away from his jersey retirement.
“(Thomas) had a shot to be honored,” Pierce said. “You came to Boston. Whether you are playing or not, you should have had your tribute then. I just don’t see how, if someone is having a jersey retirement, they’re going to be running other tributes for other players.”
“Danny and I talked about it for 40 minutes,” Pierce added. “He told me, ‘This is what we have planned,’ and at the end of the conversation, he said, ‘If you don’t want us to do Isaiah, we won’t.’ So I told him, ‘I really don’t.’ So that was it.”
Even though the video was only a short “thank you” clip to be shown before the player introductions, Pierce put the kibosh on the whole thing. For his part, Thomas was gracious in accepting the decision (although he suggests it was his decision to cancel the video, instead of Pierce’s).
I'd like to thank the Celtics for their gracious offer to play a video tribute on Feb 11th celebrating my 3yrs in Boston. But since it appears this has caused some controversy w/ Paul Pierce's night I'd ask the Celtics instead to focus all of their attention on #34's career.
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) January 17, 2018
Former Celtics Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo backed up Pierce’s feelings, saying that he deserves to have the night to himself.
“I’m with Pierce, man,” Allen said. “He ain’t put in more work than Pierce. Anybody disagree? Anybody disagree? I mean Paul Pierce put in big work, man. Why would they honor him on that same day, man?”
Rondo echoed Pierce’s sentiment and was irked that the Celtics would honor Thomas on any night.
“I agree. What has he done?” Rondo said of Thomas.
Told that Thomas led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals last year, Rondo remarked, “Oh, that’s what we celebrate around here?”
Reminded that it would be only a short video tribute, similar to the one he received when he returned to the Garden for the first time after the Celtics dealt him to Dallas, Rondo said, “This is the Boston Celtics. This isn’t the Phoenix Suns, no disrespect to any other organization, but you don’t hang conference titles. Do we hang going to the conference finals? What do we hang here?”
Championship banners, Rondo was told.
“OK, cool,” Rondo said.
That settles it, then.