Skip to main content

"You got Kobe, and remember, nobody can back you down!" -- Isaiah on his welcome to the NBA moment

Isaiah-Thomas-Kobe-Bryant-min

Going into his NBA debut against the Los Angeles Lakers, Isaiah Thomas was Paul Westphal's go-to guy for guarding guards in the post, after developing such an image throughout the Kings' training camp.

Guys would try to back me down, and they would just always turn the ball over for whatever reason. I'm not saying I'm a super defender; it's just they were trying to exploit the mismatch but always seemed to turn the ball over or take a bad shot. In training camp, Paul Westphal's like, 'nobody's backing down IT, don't do it.'

Isaiah Thomas, All The Smoke

Over the course of his NBA career, Thomas became the guy coaches would go out of their way to hide on the defensive end. But with no NBA appearances to his resume, the 5-9 rookie point guard was Westphal's secret defensive weapon off the bench. And in the second quarter of their season opener against the Purple and Gold, the Kings' head coach decided to utilize it.

When Paul Westphal put me in the game, he's naming who everybody got. And then I'm like, 'coach, who do I got?' He's like, 'you got Kobe, and remember, nobody can back you down!'

Isaiah Thomas, All The Smoke

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

The 22-year-old, who the Kings drafter 60th overall, stepped on the court and was ready for a challenge. But unlike his head coach, he wasn't under the delusion Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest post-up guards ever, wouldn't abuse him down low.

"I appreciate you putting me in, but Kobe's backing everybody down," he said to Westphal. As expected, that's exactly what happened. But Thomas enjoyed every second of it.

The first three possessions, they do a little iso. I'm over behind Kobe, just smiling, knowing he's about to fade away. He hits two out of three shots. The first shot he hit, I was sprinting down the court just laughing like, 'damn, I'm here.' The first time in my life when somebody scored on me, I was smiling and happy about it, because that was my favorite player. Even touching his jersey, I was like, 'damn, I made it. You can hit this fade away on me all game, I'll be silent.'

Isaiah Thomas, All The Smoke

The 5-9 rookie played just over 13 minutes in his NBA debut and had 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Kobe finished the game with 29 points, 4 of which came over Isaiah. The Kings beat the Lakers 100-91 at home for the first time in over three years, and IT got a taste of what's it like being an NBA player.

Paul Westphal throwing me in there and being like, 'nobody can back you down,' and then me having to guard Kobe the first three possessions of my NBA career, that was my little welcome to the NBA moment.

Isaiah Thomas, All The Smoke

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler

“I know what I’m capable of” — Jimmy Butler shines the brightest as the Miami Heat draws first blood against the Boston Celtics

After a remarkable 42-point half, the Heat limited the Celtics to shoot just 2 out 15 from the field (13.3%) in the third quarter

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James on the floor vs. Dallas Mavericks

LeBron James admits 2011 Finals loss vs. Dallas Mavericks was the toughest one in his career

LeBron opened up on what the catastrophic 2011 Finals loss taught him.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverly and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James

“The taxes are much, much lower than L.A.” — Patrick Beverley tries to recruit LeBron James to Minnesota

Patrick Beverley named several formidable reasons why LeBron James should go to Minnesota.

Luka Doncic on his first WCF appearance: “I’m living the best life right now”

Luka Doncic on his first WCF appearance: “I’m living the best life right now”

Will Luka Doncic continue to live his best life? Or will the Golden State Warriors make it hell for him in the next following days?

Klay Thompson takes a long pause before answering a Luka Doncic question

Klay Thompson takes a long pause before answering a Luka Doncic question

Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors know how to win against teams led by generational stars

X-factors in Mavs-GSW series: Spencer Dinwiddie, Andrew Wiggins

X-factors in Dallas Mavericks-Golden State Warriors series: Spencer Dinwiddie, Andrew Wiggins

Dinwiddie and Wiggins have now found their homes with the Mavs and the Warriors, respectively. It's now up to them to repay that trust.

Tony Parker just wanted to make it to the NBA, and ended up becoming a legend in the process

Tony Parker shares what made it so hard to make it in the NBA as a European point guard back in the day

Tony Parker accomplished so much throughout his illustrious career, but his only goal initially was just to make it in the NBA

John Salley compares Luka Doncic to Larry Bird

John Salley says he would fear Luka Doncic the same way he feared Larry Bird

It might be too early to draw parallels between Larry Bird and Luka Doncic. But according to John Salley, both possess the same fear factor on the court.