Get an inside look at Isaiah Thomas, as featured in the new short-film chronicling No. 22’s rise from Tacoma star to Kings first-year standout.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, the Sacramento Kings invited Kings Season Ticket Holders and the general public to view the premiere of Isaiah Thomas’ “Hometown” feature, which chronicles No. 22’s journey from a Tacoma, Wash., up-and-comer to an NBA starter, providing behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with his family members, closest friends and influential coaches.
“It was great to see how he’s so committed to his family,” said Kings fan David Carpenter after the showing.
“It was emotional for me, being a mom, and seeing his mom so proud of him – I’m so proud of him, too,” added Valerie Carpenter.
Along with the initial viewing of the short film, fans were privy to a special panel of guest speakers, including Thomas, Kings Head Coach Keith Smart, Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reynolds, Assistant Coach Bobby Jackson and filmmaker Jeff Anderson.
“I think the sky’s the limit for the young guy,” said Jackson in a Q&A session with attendees. “The thing about him is he really loves to compete – he doesn’t back down from anybody – and he’s a hard worker. I think he has a big chip on his shoulder and he’s out to prove people wrong.”
Kings fans Matt and Shannon Mossman moved to Sacramento from Washington last year and continue following their favorite player, still impressed by his relentless determination.
“I think he’s a really good example for kids – he’s a guy who’s small, but he hasn’t played small since he was a little kid,” said Matt. “He’s in a division with two of the greatest point guards around, with Chris Paul and Steve Nash, and I think in two years, he’s going to be taking the mantle from one of those guys.“
Thomas’ long-time supporters are prevalent throughout “Hometown,” as his adoring fans hug and high-five him when he walks down the familiar streets where he serves as a local hero and inspirational role model to the community.
“Everything I do when I play in games, I always think about Tacoma,” he reveals in the opening scene. “Like, ‘Man, when I go back to Tacoma, what are they going to say?’”
As No. 22 gives a tour of his favorite spots – from the Tacoma Dome, where he broke every state scoring record in high school to the hospital where he and his two kids were born – pure happiness radiates on the faces of everyone he encounters, especially on those of his proud family members as they flip through scrapbooks and reminisce over old photos.
Demonstrating the origin of his unyielding work ethic and continued motivation, Thomas and his tight-knit network of supporters describe the way the 5-foot-9 point guard has overcome the skepticism and myriad of obstacles he’s encountered at every stage of his basketball career.
“The confidence I have in myself, (my dad) is where I get it,” says Thomas. “That dude was just always like, ‘Don’t back down from (anybody).’ He once told me when I was young, ‘Never be a follower, be a leader.’”
It was Thomas’ father, James, who instilled the strong-willed mindset in his son by taking him to the gyms to play against bigger and older players as early as the fourth grade, allowing the youngster to quickly blossom into a homegrown star.
“He made everything,” recalls Lindsay Bemis, Thomas’ coach at Curtis High School. “I had all my high school kids in the gym shooting, and Isaiah shot better than all of them – and he was a seventh grader.”
Yet, while the point guard thrived on the hardwood, his grades fell short of the academic requirements for a scholarship from the University of Washington, leading him to make the most difficult but ultimately impactful decision of his life – leaving his beloved hometown to spend two years in South Kent, Conn.
“When I look at it right now, that was the best thing to ever happen to me because it made me grow up,” says Thomas. “It made me mature into the man I am today, but it also got me ready for college and for being on my own.”
Almost as much as his remarkable athletic and scholastic accomplishments, Thomas’ strong relationships with his family members, coaches and peers – including NBA stars and fellow Washington natives Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson – resonate throughout “Hometown,” revealing his kind-hearted, fun-loving and genuine personality.
“He’s somebody you want to be around – he has so much energy and so much life,” says Crawford. “He’s going to treat everybody on the team like brothers – whether you’re the top guy playing or at the bottom on the bench – because he’s the guy nobody said would make it.”
As Thomas excitedly recounts the iconic moment which has come to define his collegiate career – the title-clinching buzzer-beater against Arizona – he can’t help but smile while reciting then-CBS college basketball announcer Gus Johnson’s play-by-play call word-for-word, before noting that he gave the game ball to his father.
In one of the most touching moments, on the night of the 2011 NBA Draft, an entire room of Thomas’ biggest supporters, anxiously watching the telecast, explodes in jubilation once the Kings select the point guard with the 60th and final pick.
“Sixty felt like No. 1,” says James Thomas. “When it came around, it was like a dream.”
“Isaiah is still living the kid’s dream,” he later adds. “He’s still on a cloud right now, but when he lands, they’ll know. They’ve just seen the beginning.”
Following the “Hometown” viewing – after posing to take photos and sign autographs for fans in attendance – Thomas, grateful and overjoyed, said he never pictured receiving the kind of following he has received in Northern California.
“It’s a blessing to be in this situation,” said No. 22. “The fans make me who I am – they make me play as hard as I do, play with a smile on my face, and they give me the energy. For them to be out here, I can’t thank them enough, and I love the support in Sacramento.”
– All fans in attendance received a complimentary ticket to an upcoming preseason home game courtesy of the Kings and several lucky contest winners went home with autographed memorabilia.
– For future opportunities to catch Isaiah Thomas “Hometown,” please stay current with Kings.com.