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LOOK: Isaiah Thomas emotional after 81-point effort, hints at NBA comeback

Matt Fitzgerald

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Two-time NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas recently put up 81 points in a pro-am basketball game, showing that he still has plenty of skills on the hardwood.

Between all the adversity Thomas has battled after untimely injuries and diminishing opportunities cut short his prime and extremely high earnings potential, you can hardly blame him for getting emotional afterwards, as captured by Dime on UPROXX:

But what was actually more noteworthy about Thomas’ post-game outpouring was what he said in response to it:

Thomas was counted out from the time he made the jump to the professional level. Undersized at 5-foot-9, he was the final pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, and took a while to hit his stride following stints with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns.

For the Boston Celtics, though, the wait for Thomas to find his groove was well worth it, as their calculated move to get him wound up paying massive dividends. Thomas was an All-Star in the last two of his three seasons in Boston, but unfortunately, a hip injury hit him in the postseason, and he was never quite the same.

Since then, Thomas has bounced all around the NBA, and only appeared in three games this past season for the New Orleans Pelicans after signing a 10-day contract in April. Before then, he was out of basketball altogether, and didn’t get his deal renewed.

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Isaiah Thomas stats, viability of NBA comeback

  • Isaiah Thomas stats (NBA career): 18.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.1 apg, shooting splits of .435/.363/.872

Even at age 32, it seems like Thomas still has a chip on his shoulder and plenty to prove to the outside world. The question is, will he get an opportunity to make a legitimate NBA comeback? Last season’s few contests in New Orleans hardly count as an earnest return.

Any team that’s looking for a spark off the bench and some instant offense could probably do far worse than Thomas. There aren’t many free agents walking around who’ve achieved the heights he’s reached before, highlighted by his final season in Boston where he put up 28.9 points per game.

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Based on his 81-point exhibition effort, perhaps Thomas has more left in the tank than anyone could’ve anticipated.

The key thing here is health. Thomas’ remarks on Twitter seem to imply he hasn’t been fully healthy for the past four years as he’s worked tirelessly to prepare himself for any menial opportunity the NBA gives him. That appears to have changed since he was out of the league for the vast majority of the 2020-21 campaign.

Any squad who wants to take a low-risk, low-cost and potentially high-reward flier on Thomas might spark the basketball comeback arc of a generation. For now, it’s anyone’s guess as to what Thomas’ NBA future has in store.