CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – It only took two plays for Isaiah Thomas to wind up planted on his right hip, the same hip that caused him to miss nearly seven months of action.
Just like the consecutive knockdowns the 28-year-old suffered last Spring, Thomas popped right back to his feet.
It comes as no surprise that the second-team All-NBA point guard bounced back from a hit to a vulnerable area only to turn in a fine 17 point performance in 19 minutes almost a year removed from his last game.
It is that same trait that the 5-foot-8 All-Star’s MVP teammate cherishes about him.
“What I like most about him is he has a chip on his shoulder for life,” LeBron James said. “That’s just who he is. When a guy has a chip on his shoulder for life, he (will always work hard.) He’s never not going to give his all, he’s not going to disappoint you.”
What was really just insult to injury following the death of his sister, Chyna, in April of 2017, the torn labrum in his right hip became Thomas’s full-time focus. What was originally his escape from tragedy became its own emotionally taxing grind.
Thomas even said that part of why Tuesday night was special was because the light at the end of that tunnel was so hard to see for so long.
Yet sure enough, just as life does, Thomas got another bump, being sent to the floor on his first drive to the hoop. He landed on his right hip, which was actually welcomed by James post-game and forecasted by Lue pre-game.
Speaking about his comeback from a 10-month microfracture recovery during his playing career, Lue said Thomas’s first bump would be an important one. Post-game Lue was talking about how good it was that his miniscule guard was mowed over by a Portland big only to pop up again.
By now, for Thomas, it has just become part of the plan.
“I was like, ‘well, that’s not going to change,’” he laughed. “I just have to figure out ways to fall, but it felt good and I popped right back up. I knew that was going to happen. We’ve just got to figure out ways to hit the ground, I guess.”
Every athlete endures injuries, though most are not as serious as what Thomas has dealt with. Fears have arisen from the time the Cavaliers dealt for Thomas right up until the tip of his team debut about how much maintenance his hip will take.
One journey has led to another with Thomas’s injury, and by all accounts, there will be more pain ahead for him.
Though if there has been anything that has come to light about “Mighty IT” since last April, it is that he can play through that pain. His teammates see it, and now the world should too.
For now, that pain is gone more or less, and nothing but good things lie immediately ahead.
“It was a long journey for me,” Thomas said. “For that day to come in the first couple days, 2018 is going to be a special year.”