‘Isaiah Thomas Crying After Sister’s Death Made Charles Barkley ‘Uncomfortable’

‘Isaiah Thomas Crying After Sister’s Death Made Charles Barkley ‘Uncomfortable’
  • Tanya Ray Fox

All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas was faced with the gut-wrenching decision of whether or not to play in the Boston Celtics first postseason game on Sunday afternoon, after his 22-year-old sister, Chyna Thomas, was killed in a car accident the night prior. Armed with barely 24 hours to process his grief, the Celtics best player chose to take the court to be with his team – and the 17,000 fans at the TD Garden.

While it would have been more than understandable if he’d elected not to play, his decision was hardly surprising. In the wake of such a devastating loss – and with such little time to even consciously work through it – many of us turn to the familiarity of our routine. And while playing basketball on national television in front of millions of people may not seem normal to you or me, it is quite normal for IT4.

However there were still multiple times, particularly prior to the game, when his composure was tested. Cameras showed Thomas weeping on the bench during pregame warmups – teammate Avery Bradley close by his side to comfort him.

“He’s struggling,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens prior to the game. “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.” (Via The Associated Press)

Bradley echoed those statements after the game, saying that Thomas’ emotion weighed heavy over the entire team.

”It says a lot. Isaiah, to me, is like family,” Bradley said. ”We grew up in the same area. I know it’s tough for him. It says a lot about him. He’s a true competitor and tonight he was playing for his sister and he was playing for his family.” (Via The Associated Press)

Despite the immense support from around the basketball community, from other players in the midst of their own postseason endeavors to media and fans, there was one detractor – Charles Barkley. The outspoken TNT analyst, after viewing the video of Thomas crying, said it made him feel uncomfortable – a phrase he repeated several times through the weird rant.

“I’m not even sure what to say. I’m not feeling comfortable with him sitting on the sideline crying like that. That makes me uncomfortable, so that tells me he’s not in shape to play. I mean, I don’t know how this night’s gonna turn out, but to be sitting on the sideline a few minutes before the game crying, that makes me uncomfortable for him. That’s just not a good look, in my personal opinion. He is clearly devastated, like we all would be if we lost a sibling, but sitting on the sideline [crying] that makes me uncomfortable.”

It’s likely that Thomas’ teammates vehemently disagreed with Chuck’s assessment that he shouldn’t have played, since Thomas led the game in scoring with 33 points, along with five rebounds and six assists. The Celtics were upset by the eighth-seeded Bulls, losing 106-102 – but it’s impossible for anyone to argue that Boston would’ve been a better team had Thomas sat out.

Thomas is as a top-five scorer in the NBA this season and the heart of the Celtics squad – and this is the playoffs. It’s not time to nitpick the pregame emotions of any of these players, let alone someone who has just lost his younger sister. Barkley’s foolish response is just another example of his inability to relate to anyone who experiences the NBA differently than he did.

And oh by the way, Charles Barkley played in 123 playoff games in his sixteen season career. He scored 33 or more points just 16 times.

Just saying.

Tanya Ray Fox

Tanya Ray Fox is a sportswriter and producer who has worked for nearly 7 years in both digital and television sports media. She has previously worked in TV production experience for Comcast SportsNet New England, NFL Network and Time Warner Cable Sports. In addition to her work for SportsGrid and appearances on the affiliated FNTSY Sports Network, she is also a contributor for USA Today's Rams Wire.