IT's First All-Star Game: 'Everything I Dreamed Of'
Isaiah Thomas had been anticipating this weekend for his entire life, and now he can say his first All-Star Game experience is officially in the books.
The Celtics guard tallied nine points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal during 19 minutes of play Sunday night, as his Eastern Conference squad fell to West, 196-173.
Thomas shot 4-of-11 from the field, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc in the historically high-scoring contest.
“I wish I could’ve hit a couple more shots,” Thomas later reflected, “but it was fun out there.”
The fun began when No. 4 first checked in (fittingly) at the 4:44 mark of the first quarter. He admitted that he was a bit nervous when he initially entered the game, and it showed early on.
Thomas front-rimmed a 3-ball on his first touch of the contest, then shortly thereafter went in for a layup, but lost the handle and glanced it off the base of the rim.
The guard quickly shook those nerves off, however, as he cracked the scoring column at the 2:13 mark of the first frame when he drove past Chris Paul from the left elbow for an easy lay-in. That was his only bucket of the first half, though the little guy tallied all three of his team’s offensive rebounds during the opening quarter.
Thomas was subbed out at the start of the second quarter and did not see action again until the 2:24 mark of the third. It only took him nine seconds to make his presence known, as he quickly picked off an errant pass by Paul, jogged upcourt to the 3-point line and canned a trey.
Thomas’ shining moment came on his final basket, which came late in the fourth quarter.
After Thomas had wedged a 3-point attempt between the rim and the backboard, he and reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry were called out to center court for a jump ball. The Celtics guard opted not to leap for the toss, and instead sprinted straight past Curry, who had tipped the ball backward in Kobe Bryant’s direction in the backcourt. But Thomas, in a full sprint at that point, aggressively slithered past the Black Mamba, snagged the loose ball, and took it to the basket for a swooping, acrobatic, left-handed layup.
It was the highlight moment of the night for Thomas, who grew up idolizing Bryant and was humbled to be a part of his final All-Star experience.
“He’s the greatest player of my generation,” said Thomas. “Somebody that I’ve looked up to, and we probably won’t see another Kobe Bryant ever again, so it’s such an honor to be able to share a court with him.”
Thomas went on to add that the All-Star Game experience in its entirety was “everything I dreamed of,” despite not making the offensive impact he would have hoped for.
“It was good just to be out on the court with those other guys and experience Kobe’s last All-Star Game,” said Thomas. “For me and my family to go through this weekend was great. Hopefully I can have more weekends like this.”
As long as Thomas continues to lead the C's at an elite level in the future, he should have no problem achieving that goal.