For Isaiah Thomas, it wasn't about could he play basketball ever again - the question was, could he ever walk without pain. Playing through a hip injury for the Celtics and postponing surgery while on the Cavs, Lakers and Wizards, left Thomas in a horrible state.
“For three years, I was trying to play the best players in the world on one leg. I needed help from my kids to put my socks on in the morning.”
Isaiah Thomas, ESPN
Today, Thomas is getting his second chance. Nine months after hip surgery, more than a year since his last NBA game, IT is on Team USA, ready to show what he can do. Thomas will play in two FIBA AmeriCup qualifying games and try to impress NBA scouts.
After an Achilles tear, hip injuries are the worst thing teams can see on an injury report. They are difficult to figure out, treat, take a long time to recover, and you're never 100% injury. In the end, he had to get a completely new hip. Usually, people who need hip surgery don't need it to run pick and roll in the NBA. They need it to get to bingo and their regular doctor's appointment. So Thomas got a state-of-the-art hip replacement that should withstand the necessities of NBA basketball, and that's exactly what he plans to do in these two games.
“I’m as good now as I’ve been in any point in the last three years. Playing for USA Basketball is going to allow teams to see the way that I’m moving, the way that I’m playing, that I am back to myself, back to being the player that everyone is accustomed to seeing. I have strong belief that after they see me this weekend, somebody is going to pull the trigger and give me that opportunity — and I’m going to be more than ready for it.”
Isaiah Thomas, USA Today
Isaiah will be playing next to a few NBA icons, including Joe Johnson and Brandon Bass. They've spoken about Thomas in high praise, expressing no doubt he still has what it takes to play for an NBA team.
Even when he was The King of the Fourth, Thomas was one of the worst defenders in the league. He's older and recovering from a serious injury, so he has no delusion there's a starting job for him out there. But a bench sparkplug that can drop double-digit points playing with the second unit? There are more than a few teams that could use a player like that.
If his hip is where Thomas says it is, he will be on their shortlist.