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Isaiah Thomas leaves Feb. 11 spotlight to Paul Pierce

Isaiah Thomas made his initial return to TD Garden Jan. 3, but was not healthy enough to play.
Isaiah Thomas made his initial return to TD Garden Jan. 3, but was not healthy enough to play. File/Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Former Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas created a bit of a stir recently when he asked the Celtics to postpone their video tribute for him until he returned with the Cavaliers for their Feb. 11 game.

Thomas, who did not play in Cleveland’s Jan. 3 game at TD Garden, said he wanted to be on the court, with his family in attendance, when he received the honor.

But the Celtics are going to retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 on Feb. 11, and Pierce said this month he would prefer that Thomas did not receive his tribute that day.

On Tuesday, Thomas said on Twitter that he had reconsidered his stance.


“I look forward to coming back and playing in Boston on Feb 11th and see all of the great fans whom I will always remember for their love and incredible support the past few years,” Thomas wrote. “I’d like to thank the Celtics for their gracious offer to play a video tribute on Feb 11th celebrating my 3 [years] in Boston. But since it appears this has caused some controversy [with] Paul Pierce’s night I’d ask the Celtics instead to focus all of their attention on #34’s career.”

On Tuesday, Pelicans guard Tony Allen, who spent six seasons with the Celtics and Pierce, sided with his former teammate.

“Yeah, I’m with Pierce, man,” said Allen. “[Thomas] didn’t put in more work than Pierce. Anybody disagree? OK. Paul Pierce put in big work, man. Why would they honor him on that same day, man?”

Alumni event

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has yet to join the Celtics on a road trip as he continues to recover from his October ankle fracture. But on Monday he and coach Brad Stevens did go on a brief jaunt down I-95 to see Butler face Providence.

Stevens, who coached Hayward at Butler, said it was a good opportunity to catch up with the All-Star forward for a few hours, particularly after the Celtics spent most of last week in London.


Stevens said Hayward continues to progress, and that he is now able to do some light shooting.

“He’s been doing his consistent workouts,” Stevens said. “He’s consistently got his routine with regard to his rehab. He’s doing some spot shooting. Very, very light.

“The other day I had him shoot a free throw in practice to determine whether we’d do the last drill or not. And he made it, so we didn’t do it. He’s doing all that he can right now.”

Fan of the game

Stevens said he enjoyed seeing the Bulldogs face the Friars, despite Butler’s 70-60 loss. It offered a rare chance for him to step away from his role as a coach, if only for a couple hours.

“I enjoyed cheering,” he said. “I find myself a little bit more emotionally engaged, probably, as far as like riding the highs and lows of the game. And I love sitting and being around it. One of these days, that’ll be my seat. And I will thoroughly enjoy it.”

Stevens said he was struck by the intensity of the fans at the game, so he asked his wife Tracy if they’re similarly passionate when she is in the stands watching the Celtics.

“She said, ‘Yeah, they are,’ ” Stevens said, smiling. “So I learned some new words. I was probably called a bunch of names. I had a Butler shirt on, so there were probably Celtics/Providence fans that were anti-Brad and Gordon for the day.”


Most of all, Stevens appreciated the opportunity to view a game through a different lens, if only for one day.

“As you’re going through and watching NBA League Pass every night, you’re looking at it from a tactical standpoint instead of an enjoyment standpoint,” he said. “It is fun to sit back and really be a fan.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed about making the transition from college to the pros is that I can just be a fan.”

Everyone’s an expert

After Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry wrapped up his pregame media session Tuesday, he paused.

“You guys don’t want to ask me about the Patriots?” he asked.

He was then asked if he thought New England would defeat the Jaguars in Sunday’s AFC title game.

“I wouldn’t bet against that guy, OK?” Gentry said. “None of them.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach @globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.