Kobe Bryant may have passed on, but his legend lives on in the players who continue to put impressive performances as a tribute to his greatness. One of them is Isaiah Thomas, who's playing in the ProAm league trying to make a comeback to the NBA. This achievement will surely catch the eye of multiple NBA GMs, but that's not the reason he couldn't hold back tears after dropping 81.
Thomas scores 81, pays tribute to The Black Mamba
IT did his best mimicking his idol and friend after torching the net with 81 points in a Crawsover Pro-Am in Seattle. Despite the fact the summer league Pro-Am is no NBA, and the opposing team was composed of unknown players, the feat remains remarkable. Thomas did it using an impressive display of offensive arsenal, flair, and hunger. He drained jumpers, swished 3s, drove to the lanes at will, and flashed the killer crossovers he was once known for. IT clearly has a chip on his shoulders and is 100% healthy.
Jamal Crawford also played for the Crawsover Pro-Am and made his mark after scoring 52 points in July. Crawford made it clear he has no doubt IT still has a lot of gas in his tank and is good enough to play in the NBA. The former Celtics guard has been on a scoring tear trying to prove he can still play. Thomas scored 37 at the Drew League, and he put up 65 in a summer game in Atlanta, per ESPN 5. Equalling Kobe's record was not lost on Isaiah. A few days before the game, he tweeted this.
If the diminutive guard can still put up points like his recent performances in summer leagues, then why are teams in the NBA in no hurry to open a roster spot for him? In his last stint as part of the New Orleans Pelicans, he put up 7.7 points on a 25 percent 3-point shooting percentage. If last season was a failure to put up eye-popping numbers, IT made these summer games his revenge tour.
Thomas emotional on his impressive scoring output
It was clearly personal for the former University of Washington star. After the game, he was seen in tears and clearly emotional after the impressive performance.
Now that Thomas proved he's healthy and motivated, which teams in the NBA could sign him to provide backcourt support? A return to the Boston Celtics could be emotional as IT, and the fans feel there is still unfinished business. With the signing of Dennis Schroder, that scenario is less likely. Yes, he has proven he can still get buckets and be a valuable contributor and a locker room mentor, but the odds are against him.
IT's story will always be unique, with the way he once led the league in scoring despite his size or how he won a playoff game after his sister tragically died. Thomas is still one of the best 4th quarter scorers in NBA history! His career might have ended prematurely, but it will not diminish his contributions and legacy to the game.