Warning: The following video contains graphic language.
It’s no secret Isaiah Thomas was hurt when he found out he had been traded. But new video footage published Wednesday shows Thomas’s immediate reaction to the news.
The video, published by the Players’ Tribune as part of a docu-series on the former Boston Celtics star, shows Thomas as he spoke on the phone with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on Aug. 22. Thomas had been returning home to Washington state from a trip to Miami to celebrate his anniversary with his wife. A filmmaker was with him when the conversation happened, according to a Players’ Tribune representative, and happened to catch Thomas’s reaction in the moments directly after.
“Danny called me. I missed his call. . . he texted me, ‘IT, give me a call back,’” Thomas told camera crews afterward.
“Called him back, he asked me how I was doing,” Thomas said, “So I said, I just got back to Seattle, I’m chilling here at home. Then he got a little quiet, and that’s when he broke it to me: ‘Well, IT, I just traded you.’”
The news of the trade, in which Thomas was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving, stunned Boston and the sports world. It also, as the video shows, visibly stunned Thomas.
“That’s crazy,” he said, looking shell-shocked as he put his phone aside just after the conversation with Ainge ended. “What are you talking about? My kids are about to start school. . . After everything I went though, [expletive], no, you’re not supposed to do that. I just. . . I mean, if that’s what he wants. Danny’s like that. I mean, I’m not trippin’, it’s just crazy that they would do that. Like, I’m not mad — I’d be mad if I went to a weak-ass team. It’s like, we’re going to win the finals anyway. Like, that’s what’s crazy. But it’s just like, damn, after all I do for — the city’s going to be mad as [expletive].”
Thomas’s wife can be seen in a shot shortly after, her head resting on her hand as she just sighed, “Damn.”
“You know, I was cool in Boston. I knew my way around,” Thomas said, sitting on the steps outside of his house, looking forlorn.
Thomas then said he called his friends and family to break the news. As he was on the phone with someone, Thomas could be heard saying, “I have to tell my kids in a minute, you feel me? That’s all Jaiden knows, is Boston. That’s where he really grew up at.
“Like, damn. I have to go through this again?”
In October, Thomas told Sports Illustrated that he may never speak with Ainge again. Ainge, for his part, had told the Globe in September that it was beyond difficult to make the phone call to Thomas.
Filmmaker T.J. Regan happened to be following Thomas at the time, tracing the NBA star’s “personal and professional journey since the beginning of the 2017 NBA playoffs,” according to an e-mail from a Players’ Tribune representative. The footage was used as part of Tribune’s docu-series on Thomas.