Kyrie Irving confident Isaiah Thomas will return to All-Star level: ‘He’ll be back at the top of his game in no time’

"You don't ever have to worry about a talented guy like that."

Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas drives past Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, rear, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, March 18, 2019. Thomas returned to play in his first game after being traded in 2017 for Irving. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas drives past Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, rear, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, March 18, 2019. Thomas returned to play in his first game after being traded in 2017 for Irving. –The Associated Press

Though Isaiah Thomas has had his ups and downs over the past two seasons, one player in particular is confident that he can return to his former All-Star-caliber form: Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving.

Following the Celtics’ 114-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Thomas’s return to TD Garden on Monday night, Irving was asked to share his thoughts on the former Boston star point guard before him. Irving was empathetic toward the tough situation Thomas has been faced with since the two swapped teams in the summer of 2017 and praised the success that the 5-foot-9-inch guard enjoyed as a member of the Boston Celtics.

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“First and foremost we all understand that personal emotions and business don’t really mix, especially in the NBA,” Irving said postgame. “You have a plan where you would like to stay somewhere and the organization moves in another direction, and we respect all those guys who are in the top positions to make those decisions. But you could just see the connection that guys have with fans that they build in the community stick with them for the rest of their careers.”

At the end of the first quarter, a tribute video was played at TD Garden showcasing Thomas’s greatest moments with the Celtics over the course of two-plus seasons. Irving acknowledged how special the moment was and spoke of the respect he had for Thomas while he was in a Celtics uniform.

“It’s just awesome,” Irving said. “It’s well documented what he’s done [in Boston]. For me, it’s unique position because I’m the one who got traded for him…I just want to see him do well.”

In his final full season with the Celtics, Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game, finished fifth in the Most Valuable Player voting, and led the team all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. And despite Thomas’ limited opportunities this season for the Denver Nuggets, Irving believes he has what it takes to return to an elite level once again.

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“He’s dealt with a lot of BS in his career just trying to be the underdog all the time instead of getting the opportunity he deserves,” Irving added. “Boston gave him that opportunity and he flourished.”

“He’ll be back at the top of his game in no time. You don’t ever have to worry about a talented guy like that to find a job in the NBA and make an impact somewhere.”

 

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