Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman isn’t the only one who has an issue with the team airing an Isaiah Thomas tribute video the same night as Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement.
Paul Pierce himself indicated during a recent episode of ESPN’s The Jump that he would prefer the team postpone the video to a later date, so it doesn’t interfere with his long-awaited evening.
“I.T. might have to wait until next year,” he told his co-hosts Thursday afternoon. “Isaiah, [Wednesday] was your night. Come February 11, you might have to wait until next year.”
The Celtics initially had planned to show Thomas’ commemorative segment when the Cavaliers came to the TD Garden on Jan. 3, but opted to hold off at Thomas’ request. The next available opportunity to show the video is when Cleveland returns to Boston on Feb. 11 — the same date as the scheduled ceremony for no. 34.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich that the team, as of now, still plans to show Thomas’ tribute on Feb. 11. But if Pierce has it his way, they will push it off once more.
“I’m not saying Isaiah shouldn’t get a tribute video,” Pierce said. “But like, listen, on February 11, the night I get my jersey retired, man, I’m not sure I want to look up at the jumbotron and see Isaiah highlights. After all the years I put in…”
The 10-time NBA All-Star, who spent 15 years in Boston, referenced Kobe Bryant’s dual-number retirement with the Lakers as an example of what he hopes to see.
“I had a chance to watch Kobe’s, and throughout the game and timeouts, they were a lot of tribute videos for him,” Pierce said. “I enjoyed to watch that throughout the game. Hopefully, now, the Boston Celtics will do that for me. I’m not sure I want to see an Isaiah video that night.”
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson took it one step further by arguing that Thomas shouldn’t even get a tribute video, saying that the standards for such honor have significantly decreased over the years. Pierce agreed.
“It’s like everybody is getting a tribute video now,” he said. “If you play for a team, you get traded, you get a tribute video.”
When host Rachel Nichols pushed back to vouch for Thomas, Pierce offered a compromise: “Well, you could Instagram it.”
“If you didn’t leave anything behind for a team to hold on to, your video tribute should be sent to you on Twitter or Instagram,” he said, with a smile.
That’s the bottomline for the retired Celtics forward: Thomas didn’t bring home any hardware in Boston, while Pierce helped lead to the franchise to their first NBA championship in over two decades.