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Never a thought we would’ve moved him

To this day, Boston Celtics forward Al Horford said the Isaiah Thomas trade still surprises him.

Thomas was coming off a stunning 2016-‘17 regular season, when he was fifth in the league MVP race, and his emotionally-charged play in the postseason captured Boston’s heartbeat. Thomas helped lead the Celtics to the conference finals while playing through unimaginable heartache after his sister, Chyna, died in a single-car accident only a day before the postseason started. Thomas missed the final three games against Cleveland in the playoffs with a hip injury and was then moved to the Cavs in the blockbuster Kyrie Irving trade later that summer.

“It’s just the reality in pro sports, but yeah, in the NBA it’s very true,” Horford told The Denver Post. “It was something that still to this day it surprises me. When you look at it from a business standpoint, you understand everything. That’s it. That’s the reality we live in. It was in a point in the offseason where we thought we had our team set, and everything transpired.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who still keeps in touch with Thomas, had a difficult time separating the business of basketball with the loyalty he felt toward him.

“That was a really hard time because there was never a thought that we would possibly have traded him, and then Kyrie became available,” Stevens said.  “It was a super unique situation. That was a tough one in all the households in Boston, certainly the Stevens’ household as well. That’s because he did so much in Boston, because he was so well-liked and how much he poured his heart into the game of basketball. This guy works as hard and is as dedicated as anybody I’ve ever been around. That’s why we all are smarter than to bet against him because when he gets back out on that court, he’s gonna make a heck of a difference.”

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) ...

John Leyba, The Denver Post

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) pushes on the arm of Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) as he tries to get around him during the first quarter Feb. 21, 2016 at Pepsi Center.

Horford saw first-hand how Thomas could penetrate a defense, make shots from almost any angle and during that postseason run in particular, he was in awe of Thomas’s ability to compartmentalize his life.

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