Spud Webb came into the NBA in 1985 with the Atlanta Hawks. He was listed at 5’6 and most thought ‘how adorable’ this will be fun for the kids to watch while it lasts and then he will be bounced over to a European league. But then the 1986 All Star Weekend happened. He can do what? Dunk a basketball?! The smallest adult in the arena won the contest and instantly became a household name and went on to have a respectable 13 year NBA career averaging about 9 ppg.
Dateline 1987. Enter Mugsey Bogues. Bogues was maybe 5’4 and felt more like a circus act whenever he entered the game. Defenders were hunched over guarding him wondering if he might just dribble right between their legs. At the peak of his career Bogues averaged 11ppg with the Charlotte Hornets in the 1994-95 season. Not bad.
I bring up these two guy to provide perspective on just what Isaiah Thomas is achieving today with the Boston Celtics. Thomas, who is listed at 5’9 (when standing on his tippy toes), is not only having success in the NBA, but is a legit NBA MVP candidate this season. Thomas is currently averaging 29 ppg to go along with 6 assists each night.
The 29 ppg is amazing, but even more impressive is that he is averaging 10ppg in the 4th quarter, that the most by an NBA player over the last 20 years. Yes, I said 20 years (that time span covers guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Allen Iverson and current players like Harden and Westbrook).
I went to a Pac12 school (USC), so i follow West coast basketball probably more than most for a guy living out here on the East coast. I remember watching late night Pac12 games when the University of Washington was on TV. Isaiah Thomas averaged 16 ppg his final season in college, and I thought, ‘wow’ he is really good, but is he ‘NBA good?’ Asked and answered your honor.
His 4th qtr average this season in the NBA tells me he has ‘IT’. He has been blessed with the clutch gene. There aren’t many in the NBA who have that fearless attitude and assassin’s mentality. Not only does he score in the clutch, but its translating to team success. The Celtics are 37-21, good for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, only 4 games behind the Cavs as I’m writing this story.
Let’s appreciate what we are witnessing in Thomas. We may not see another player of his stature come along and dominate in the NBA for awhile. Short in size, big in heart and definitely more than just a novelty act…
Written by: Andrew Rosenberg