In a first person essay for The Players' Tribune, Isaiah Thomas wrote about how players don't have as much power as many believe in terms of choosing where to play.
Thomas was traded by the Boston Celtics to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a surprising move.
"Plus, in a lot of ways, I actually think this was a good lesson," wrote Thomas. "Not only for me, but for the league as a whole. And for the fans and the media, too, you know, just in terms of how they talk about guys changing teams. I was thinking about that last year with KD (Kevin Durant) and his free agency — about how people gave him such a hard time for doing what he felt was best for him and his future. How they turned him into a villain, just for doing what was his right to do as a free agent in this league. Suddenly, it was, “Oh, he’s selfish,” or, “Oh, he’s a coward.” Suddenly, just for doing business on his end, and doing right by himself, he was portrayed as this bad guy.
"But that’s what I think my trade can show people. I want them to see how my getting traded — just like that, without any warning — by the franchise that I scratched and clawed for, and bled for, and put my everything on the line for? That’s why people need to fix their perspective. It’s like, man — with a few exceptions, unless we’re free agents, 99 times out of 100, it’s the owners with the power. So when players are getting moved left and right, and having their lives changed without any say-so, and it’s no big deal … but then the handful of times it flips, and the player has control … then it’s some scandal? Just being honest, but — to me, that says a lot about where we are as a league, and even as a society. And it says a lot about how far we still have to go.
"And like I said, there’s no hard feelings. But I just hope that the next time a player leaves in free agency, and anybody wants to jump on him or write a critical story or a nasty tweet about him, maybe now they’ll think twice. Maybe they’ll look around the league, look at a case like mine, and remember that loyalty — it’s just a word. And it’s a powerful word if you want it to be. But man … when it comes to business, it ain’t nothing to count on.
"At the same time, though, people gotta understand. Like, even with all of this being said … man … it still hurt. It still hurt bad. And I hope people can understand that when I say it hurt, it isn’t directed at anyone. I’m not saying I was hurt by anyone, or wronged by anyone, or betrayed. I’m just saying, man, I’m only human. I may act like a tough guy on the court. And I may seem like I have ice in my veins when I’m competing. But at the same time — it ain’t ice, really. I got blood and I got a heart like everyone else."