On Friday of last week, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had some interesting things to say about Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas:
"It’s hard to keep up with him … He’s a tricky little dude. He’s got a lot of ways to score, find the open man if that’s appropriate. He’s just tough to stick with."
This sounds awfully familiar to a sort-of-recently retired NBA legend, doesn’t it? Thomas stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall, which is the height of most NBA players’ torsos, but don’t let that disadvantage fool you: Thomas’ game is evolving by the day, and he is once again putting up all-star numbers — a career-high 26.1 points and 6.3 assists per game.
Allen Iverson, the legend referred to above who set the bar of excellence for undersized NBA players during his 14-year Hall of Fame career, has taken notice.
In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Forsberg, Thomas described what happened the morning after one of his best performances of the season in a comeback win against the Minnesota Timberwolves:
Isaiah Thomas awoke in his Twin Cities hotel room to find a flurry of congratulatory text messages, but one of the green blurbs on his iPhone stood out more than the others.
Keep doing your thing. I’m watching.
"It was real early in the morning that he texted, like 8:30, so he must have been watching highlights [of the Minnesota game] or something," Thomas said, unable to muffle a smile. "I told him, ‘I appreciate it and that I’m just trying to be like you.’ He was like, ‘Say no more.’ Those texts man, it just motivates me to keep going. Someone like that is watching me without me even reaching out to him, so I guess I’m doing something right."
This isn’t the first time Iverson has provided words of encouragement to Thomas — the Celtics guard illustrated the interaction the two had while watching a boxing match involving mutual friend Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"[Iverson] came over and talked to me for like 30 minutes, just about how big of a fan he was of me … And people can say that, but then he was even doing my moves. He was like, ‘I like that move, the little hesitation move to the right.’ And that’s when I realized that he’s not just saying it, he watches my game."
Long story short: The NBA’s newest bromance is upon us.