On Saturday, Isaiah Thomas lost his sister, Chyna J. Thomas, in a fatal car crash. On Sunday, he went to the Celtics’ first 2017 NBA playoffs game against Chicago Bulls at TD Garden.
“He’s struggling,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game, according to Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press. “Obviously, it’s tragic circumstances that he and his family are going through right now. Our thoughts, first and foremost are with them … We’ve talked a little bit last night and then again today [that] as he goes through it and if he feels like he needs to not [play] — then whatever he wants.”
It was obvious, though, that Thomas was still shaken by the loss, and he was captured on camera on the sidelines crying as Avery Bradley comforted his teammate.
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But the sight didn’t sit well with Charles Barkley.
“I’m not sure what to say — I’m not feeling comfortable with him sitting on the sideline crying like that,” Barkley said during a pregame show. “That makes me uncomfortable. So that tells me he’s not in shape to play. I mean, I don’t know how this night is going to turn out, but to be sitting on the sideline a few minutes before the game, crying, that just makes me uncomfortable for him. That’s just not a good look for him, in my personal opinion. I mean, he is clearly devastated, like we all would be if we lost a sibling, but sitting on the sideline right before the game, that makes me uncomfortable.”
However, Barkley did allow later on in the discussion that Thomas might find some comfort in getting lost in the game for a while.
“I think he’ll be glad — like, this is just me thinking — I think he’ll be glad when the game starts,” Barkley said. “Because as a player, we have so much going on in our mind. We’ve got the game plan, we’ve got wondering what plays to run and things like that. You’ve got so much going through your mind once the game starts.
“In his free time, I know it’s going to be painful, but I know if he’s going to play today, it’s going to be a relief for him. At least, it was for me, because I had to think about so much going on in the game, and it gave me two hours of pain relief, as I called it. And then you go back after the game.”
The Celtics had a moment of silence to honor Chyna Thomas before the game.