The Boston Celtics face an elimination game in the NBA Finals on Thursday night as they trail 3-2 in this best-of-seven series to the Golden State Warriors. Should the Celtics lose, nobody would question the toughness and heart of their young big man Robert Williams III, aka the “Time Lord.” Williams has played through pain and multiple knee drains since recovering from meniscus surgery on March 30. It was reported that the Celtics told him he would not further damage the knee by playing. Former Celtic Isaiah Thomas disagreed and made it known via Twitter.
“Heard that before lol,” Thomas tweeted.
Heard that before lol https://t.co/oxOEWdvRyT
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) June 16, 2022
Thomas is referring to the 2017 playoffs where he was playing on a bad hip and the team allegedly knew he could do more damage but rode the diminutive guard into the ground. After help leading the Celtics to the conference finals, he played the first two games but missed the remainder of the series, Celtics loss.
This was seen as particularly egregious by some as the Celtics coldly traded Thomas after the playoff run in Boston, where he played the best basketball of his career.
The Celtics would be foolish if they were putting Williams’ long-term health at risk.
The 24-year-old 6-foot-8 All-Defensive team member is a generational shot-blocking and defensive talent. He can be the anchor to their defense for the next decade. But that won’t happen by messing around now in the short term.
“It gets to me a lot,” Williams III told Yahoo Sports. “It’s hard to deal with. When I’m out there, the adrenaline and energy takes over so I don’t really think about it during games, but it for sure gets to me a lot.”
“Icing, deep tissue massages, treatment, wait three or four hours and then start the process all over again until [it’s time to sleep],” Williams III told Yahoo Sports. “Usually that same routine. Maybe a little BFR [blood flow restriction training] here and there, but usually that same ritual.”
That process may be tedious to the Time Lord, but if he wants a long and healthy career he’ll need to manage this so other issues don’t become a problem as a result. The challenge, of course, is playing in the NBA Finals. The highlight and mountaintop of an NBA career. You never know if you’ll make it back, so seizing the opportunity is critical.
But it means a shortened offseason and recovery time.
If Williams and/or the Celtics opted to shut down for the rest of the season after the surgery he would have had three months to recover from the surgery before he would even begin strength training, skill development, etc. That would give him about six months before the start of training camp.
Instead he was back on the court for Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets on April 23rd.
Less than a month post-surgery.
It’s understandable to see Thomas watch from afar and offer an “LOL” which undoubtedly disguises truer more negative emotions. But this is the reality of big time professional sports. Like it or not.