- Jason Miller/Getty
- A feud emerged after the Boston Celtics mistakenly planned for Paul Pierce and Isaiah Thomas to be honored the same night.
- Thomas had asked for the Celtics to delay his video tribute until he was able to play, pushing the date back to February 11, which is Pierce’s jersey retirement.
- Pierce was open about not wanting to share the night with another player.
- After much discussion, the Celtics decided to make February 11 only for Pierce, putting off Thomas’ video tribute.
After a petty and hilarious back-and-forth around the NBA, the Boston Celtics have decided to make February 11 a night to honor only Paul Pierce.
According to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg, the Celtics decided to solely honor Pierce that night by retiring his jersey and will not play a video tribute to Isaiah Thomas, who will be returning to Boston as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thomas was supposed to be given a video tribute when the Cavs played the Celtics in Boston on January 3, but he asked them to postpone the honor because he was not playing. Thomas wanted his family to be in attendance for the tribute.
When the Celtics and Thomas decided to push back the tribute, it drew the ire of Pierce, who did not want to share his night with any other players.
“I’m not saying Isaiah shouldn’t get a tribute video,” Pierce said on ESPN’s “The Jump” in January, adding: “But on February 11, the night I get my jersey retired, I’m not sure I want to look up at the Jumbotron and see Isaiah highlights.”
According to Forsberg, neither Thomas nor the Celtics realized that February 11 was Pierce’s jersey retirement when they agreed to push back the video tribute. Pierce reportedly sat down with Celtics president Danny Ainge for 40 minutes and told him that he didn’t want to share the night with Thomas.
“Danny and I talked about it for 40 minutes,” Pierce told Forsberg on Tuesday. “He told me, ‘This is what we have planned,’ and at the end of the conversation, he said, ‘If you don’t want us to do Isaiah, we won’t.’ So I told him, ‘I really don’t.’ So that was it.”
Pierce then said that Thomas blew his chance to be honored by the Celtics.
“(Thomas) had a shot to be honored,” Pierce said. “You came to Boston. Whether you are playing or not, you should have had your tribute then. I just don’t see how, if someone is having a jersey retirement, they’re going to be running other tributes for other players.
“Danny tried to sell me on it, but I told him, ‘He had a shot, Danny, and he punked you on it. He pretty much dictated everything.’ They let it happen because they felt sorry how (the trade to Cleveland) went down. It’s guilt.”
These comments come after Pierce questioned whether the topic was even worth discussing after he made headlines on “The Jump.”
Is this really a topic????
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) January 5, 2018
Thomas is not blameless, either. He did turn down a video tribute and had previously said he didn’t see the big deal in sharing a night, especially because he wanted his family to see the tribute.
“The video tribute ain’t the whole night. I just wanted my family to be here to see it,” Thomas said in January. “That’s what it came down to. I wanted my family to experience the love and appreciation of this city and this organization are going to give me on that night.”
However, after Pierce’s comments on Tuesday, Thomas backed down from his request.
I'd like to thank the Celtics for their gracious offer to play a video tribute on Feb 11th celebrating my 3yrs in Boston. But since it appears this has caused some controversy w/ Paul Pierce's night I'd ask the Celtics instead to focus all of their attention on #34's career.
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) January 17, 2018
The NBA world seemed to take sides with Pierce.
New Orleans Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo, a former teammate of Pierce’s with the Celtics, said to reporters, “What has [Thomas] done?” When Rondo was told Thomas led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, Rondo quipped: “Oh, that’s what we celebrate around here? … No disrespect to any other organization but [the Celtics] don’t hang conference titles.”
Former Celtics wing Tony Allen, also now on the Pelicans, took Pierce’s side too.
“I’m with Pierce, man,” Allen said. “(Thomas) didn’t put in more work than Paul … Paul Pierce put in big work, man. Why would they honor (Thomas) on that same day, man? Let my man get his jersey retired, man. Let him embrace that, man. He put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this organization, man, and capitalized and had some good results.”
So, after a long and laughably drawn-out process, it appears Pierce will have a night to himself and Thomas will have to wait or pass on a tribute altogether.