Isaiah Thomas Loves Boston, Hates Sleeved Jerseys, and Could Use a Steak Right Now

A Q&A with the Celtics all-star.

Photo by Toan Trinh

Photo by Toan Trinh

Isaiah Thomas has wasted little time endearing himself to Celtics fans since arriving in Boston last year. He was tossed with two technicals in his first bout with the Lakers, made the All-Star Game last season, and helped hand Golden State a rare loss in a heart-stopping, must-watch regular season game, oxymoronic as that may sound.

The Cambridge resident (“Had to be by everything,” he explains) sat down with me to discuss Boston as a free agent destination, his sartorial savvy, and his one run-in with Big Papi.

BOSTON: Boston has a reputation for not being the sexiest free agent destination. Why do you think that is, and what have you learned about Boston since arriving here?

THOMAS: I think the biggest reason is probably the weather. It’s cold. Especially during the season, it’s cold, it’s snowy, it’s all those things that people don’t like. But I don’t think you realize how great Boston is, as a city, until you’re here. Even when I played on the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, and we visited Boston, it’s like, you know about Boston, but you’re only here for a day or maybe two and you don’t get to experience what Boston is really like. I don’t think you really understand it until you’re really here and you’ve got to live here and you see these people everyday who are just so passionate about just being here in Boston and being a sports fan. It’s a great feeling, and I think you can only experience that feeling if you’re here.

How do you decide which color headband to wear before a game?

So the white jerseys, usually I wear white.

So you coordinate?

Yeah yeah yeah. I’m always—I’m like Deion Sanders, I feel like if you look good, you play good.

What do you think of the sleeved jerseys, then?

I don’t like them. I don’t like them. I know what the NBA’s doing, especially for a casual fan it’s definitely convenient.

Is it uncomfortable?

Yeah. I have to get a size or two bigger because it’s so tight right here. [points to armpit] I remember, when I first played on the Celtics, when I got traded, I think one of my first home games was in that jersey, and it was so tight, I had to—you’re not supposed to—I had to get scissors and I had to cut it right there because it was too tight. They had it the same size as my regular jersey, which with the sleeved jerseys, you need to go a size or two bigger because they’re so tight.

The headband thing, I try not to go green-on-green, because it’s definitely a different green. So on the road, I try to do a black headband, and at home, you can do either the white or the green.

Boston is such a unique sports town, and you have so much crossover between the city’s teams. Which athlete on another Boston team are you closest with?

I’ve always had basketball friends. [laughs] Ever since we played in the playoffs and the Patriots were coming to our games, LeGarrette Blount, he’s a good friend of mine now. We text all the time. We exchanged numbers throughout that time they were coming to our games.

I don’t have many baseball friends. I definitely need to try to make some.

Have you met David Ortiz yet?

I met him one time, and it was before I was a Celtic. I actually threw the first pitch out, Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox, which was crazy. I used to be with Reebok, and I know he’s a Reebok guy or he used to be. I threw the first pitch out and I was going back in the locker room, and he pointed at me and told me to come here. He’s like, ‘I love your story, and good luck with everything, and it’s nice to meet you.’ It was a surreal moment for me, for somebody like that. I think it was after my rookie year, so I wasn’t really nobody then. For him to come up to me and know who I am, somebody of that stature, I guess you can say we’re friends. I did a few events with his wife, too.

A couple months ago, Kelly Olynyk told us that he can eat an entire burrito in one bite. You don’t seem impressed with that.

I mean, he eats anything. He eats any and everything, so it’s kinda nasty that he can do that. I’ve seen it.

Where do you like to eat in Boston?

There’s a lot of restaurants out here I like. My favorite restaurant is Morton’s. I know it’s not Boston-based, but it’s definitely my favorite. Cajun ribeye steak and some mashed potatoes.

 Since Good Humor brought you here today, I have to ask: If Brad Stevens were an ice cream flavor, which would he be?

He’d probably be a strawberry shortcake since that’s my favorite and he’s one of my favorite coaches.