With respect to the Los Angeles Lakers, it is hard to even crack a smile these days when thinking about the team. The purple and gold have had an inconsistent season and are completely decimated at the moment.
Speaking of which, the amount of players (and coaches as well) that are out due to the league’s health and safety protocols is literally too much for someone to count off on one hand. Moreover, the Lakers received a devastating blow recently against Minnesota via star power forward Anthony Davis’ MCL sprain.
As a result, it is rather difficult to be too pleased with the way things currently stand for the 17-time champions. It has been a season of adversity up to this juncture, and the team has never been fully healthy. Matters of this nature are certainly not beneficial given the team’s championship aspirations.
Be that as it may, the Lakers do have some degree of reason to be jolly amid the turbulent times. Although they lost the other night against Minnesota, Isaiah Thomas proved to be a bright spot for Los Angeles in his 22 minutes of action.
Despite coming off the bench, Thomas actually led the Lakers in points during the night in question. The 5-foot-9 point guard managed to tally 19 points while shooting 5-of-12 from the field.
In addition, the former All-NBA player got to the charity stripe quite a bit for his squad. Thomas showcased that he is not afraid to slash to the rim, which contributed to a total of nine free-throw attempts.
Granted, Thomas may never be his All-NBA self again, one cannot help to follow suit with what the Minnesota faithful did once he entered the game Friday evening. When his number was called, Wolves’ fans gave Thomas a well-deserved standing ovation. He was worthy of every bit of it, and anyone who loves basketball (and better yet, a good story) should likewise applaud I.T. for getting to this point.
His tale is one of great determination, for he has faced some mighty tough challenges over the last several years. However, his 2017 stint with the rival Boston Celtics was perhaps the most gut-wrenching stage in his NBA career.
For starters, Isaiah Thomas dealt with the untimely passing of his sister during that particular campaign. The 32-year-old veteran also endured a horrible hip injury as of then. Sadly enough, he has never quite been the same player since his glory days in Beantown.
One can only imagine the toll such events took on him mentally and physically. The hip injury speaks for itself provided that his body simply would not cooperate no matter how hard he tried. At the same time, a death is as serious as it gets and leaves an indescribable void that can never be filled.
With all of that in mind, it is great to see Thomas back on the hardwood. He has fought through hardships galore, and, as the other night clearly showed, he is still capable of getting the rock through the hoop.
As a result, it is only natural for one’s spirits to be uplifted when thinking about Thomas and his incredible journey.
LeBron James, is among those who appreciate how far Isaiah Thomas has come along.
In fact, per transcription from Damian Burchardt of Lakers Nation, James recently commented that he is very “happy” Isaiah Thomas is back where he belongs.
"“First of all, I’ve always had respect for him and I’m happy to see him back in the league,” James said.“The difference between when we were teammates in Cleveland and now is that he’s healthy now. He wasn’t healthy in Cleveland and he was playing out of pure grit and his hip was just not allowing him to be who he was before the injury. So obviously he has his pop back, he has his shot back and it’s good to have him.”"
Without a doubt, James understands better than most what I.T. has experienced in his basketball career. The two-time All-Star’s career really crumbled a few years back, and he was not his normal self during his brief stint as a Cavalier.
On account of that, it makes Thomas’ performance the other night against Minnesota even cooler. Albeit the Lakers did not play too well that night as a whole, I.T. certainly made the most of his opportunity.
Time will tell how Thomas continues to perform if his number is called. The other night is ultimately a small sample size, and it is worth mentioning that L.A. only signed Thomas to a 10-day pact.
Nevertheless, anyone who follows basketball knows Thomas is a walking bucket. He may not be an elite defender (in part due to his shorter physique), but he gives the Lakers a much-needed boost of firepower.
That being said, who’s to say the Lakers will not give him a long look if he continues to perform well? The purple and gold, after all, could use all the help they can get right now. Thus, while Thomas does not solve all of their problems, his presence gives the team some life.
Furthermore, it helps to know that Thomas is currently carrying a humble disposition. He expressed his gratitude the other day for getting a chance to wear the purple and gold again.
Let alone that, per Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register, Thomas also told the media that he will do everything he can to help the Lakers.
"“I’ve said it before: I’m not motivated by anything but the love of the game,” he said. “That’s the space I’m in right now. Any way I can help this team, any way I can help with any opportunity I get, I’m just going to do it with a smile on my face and work the hardest I possibly can.”"
Indubitably, nothing is guaranteed going forward with regard to the newly inked Laker. It is highly possible that I.T. will merely serve as a temporary replacement amid the Lakers’ woes.
At any rate, it is impossible to not echo what LeBron said about Thomas. Being “happy” for the point guard is only human and Lakers’ fans will surely be rooting for him in the time to come.
Given how topsy-turvy the Lakers’ season has been, this is definitely a refreshing story amid it all. Isaiah Thomas might be smaller by NBA standards, but his heart and perseverance are too big to measure.