Isaiah Thomas’ Exhilarating 53-Point Performance On His Sister’s Birthday

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today


Six years ago today, less than three weeks after receiving heartbreaking news about his sister’s death, then Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas completed the most memorable game of his career on what would have been her twenty-third-birthday.

Fighting through the emotional pain, Thomas also had to suffer through six hours of oral surgery after his front tooth was knocked out in Game 1 of the series—the rugged 5’9” guard willed himself through it all.


Photo Credit: Getty Images


Here’s how things went down (from our original reports on May 2, 2017):

Tuesday afternoon’s dental procedures conclude. It’s almost go-time for Isaiah Thomas, but not quite yet. Just hours out of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in which the Boston Celtics lead Washington one game to none, Thomas needs some time to get his mind off the everlasting memory of his sister, Chyna, so he heads to the podium to perform a mock press conference with his five-year-old son, Jaiden. 

It’s game time. Isaiah Thomas’ heart is broken and mouth is swollen, but is ready to put the pedaltothemetal. Throughout the game, Thomas made gritty plays sacrificing his body and diving for every loose ball—one instance sucked the energy out of TD Garden where his face smacked the ground after a hard foul.

Thomas poured in a regular-season and playoff career high 53 points on an immaculate 18-of-33 shooting from the field and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line. His desire to never give up and fight until the last bell willed Boston to the thrilling 129-119 overtime victory to steal Game 2. Thomas’ fourth quarter was one for the ages—20 points in the fourth alone was the most in franchise history since Paul Pierce’s 20 in 2003. To go with his historic fourth quarter, Thomas scored nine overtime points. He refused to let the game slip through the cracks.



During an on-court interview with TNT after the win, Thomas broke down.


“My sister wouldn’t want me to stop,” he said in an emotional way. “The only thing about it is, once I leave this gym, I hit reality and she’s not here. So that’s the tough part. But, when I’m in this arena, I can lock in and I know everything I do is for her.”


Isaiah Thomas has been through it all. 60th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft means he was doubted from the start; he struggled to stick with one team before cementing himself in Boston; the 5’9” frame had NBA general managers think he couldn’t stand a chance in the league. Now, the tragedy he’s coping with makes this man unbreakable.


“Today’s my sister’s birthday,” Thomas said after Game 2, sitting at the same podium where hours earlier he stood in front of his son. “She would have been 23 [years old] today. So the least I can do is go out there and play for her.”



Isaiah Thomas doesn’t care about his individual feats. He cares about bringing a championship home to the city of Boston.


“It’s nice for your name to be in Celtics history because of all the great players, but until you win one of those championships you can’t call yourself a great player,” Thomas admitted. “That’s the ultimate goal.”


Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Well, there’s no other way to describe Isaiah Thomas than that.


You may also like...