‘I’m In A Great Place, And Nothing That Happens…Nothing Can F–k Up My Mental’ | Isaiah Thomas On Being Pain-Free And Continuing His NBA Journey

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Isaiah Thomas has signed another NBA 10-day contract  this time with the Charlotte Hornets. Thomas suffered a debilitating hip injury during the 2017 playoffs, playing the best basketball of his career as a member of the Boston Celtics. He was traded for Kyrie Irving and has bounced in and out of the league since. He’s pain-free now and has been through the worst, and believes he can handle anything that comes his way now.

“I’m in a great place, and nothing that happens — whether I keep signing 10-days or I don’t sign with a team again — nothing can f–k up my mental, just because I’ve been through that s–t already,” Thomas told The Athletic. “It’s just a blessing for me to be able to be where I’m at today with how bad my hip was, because I never thought I would be in this space again where I have no pain and I can play free and I can just live free. Not just play, like, I don’t have no pain on a daily basis.”

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For a while his goal of making it back to the league was interfering with his ability to live normally. He was unable to move through life without pain. Simple tasks like getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen were challenging for the 5’9″ guard, as his right hip was bone-to-bone.

“I was in pain every day,” he said. “Sit down, walking, playing, I was in pain every day.”

IT had surgery in 2020, and says he’s back to his old self and pain-free. He’s on his third 10-day contract, and hopes this time he can stick. His stints with the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers earlier this season were not extended.

‘They Gave Up On Me’| Isaiah Thomas, A Model of Perseverance, Makes His Way Back To NBA With 10-Day Lakers Contract

If he is healthy, IT can provide veteran leadership presence on a young team embarking on the play-in tournament or playoffs. A steadying hand for a young team that is dealing with the pressure cooker of the NBA playoffs. But veterans are finding those roles harder to come by in the new NBA, let alone a small player with a serious injury history.

“As the league goes younger and younger, they’re kind of pushing the vets out, but the vets are so valuable in every locker room in the NBA,” he said. “You can ask anybody this in the NBA, a vet, you need that at the end of the bench to be able to hold guys accountable. You need that at the end of the bench to be able to talk to those superstar players and be able to interact and relate to a point to where a coaching staff can’t. And I just felt like, in that sense, without even putting the ball in the basket, I could’ve helped.”

IT has a point. The Miami Heat have that in Udonis Haslem — though IT likely sees his role as something in between Haslem and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Carmelo Anthony. Someone that won’t be relied upon too much on the floor, but someone who can give you 10-12 if needed and can communicate with the team’s young stars.

His 10-day contract will end on Saturday in Charlotte, and it might be his last chance to have one last ride on an improbable NBA journey.


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