Find out how Thomas capped off an eventful trip to All-Star Weekend in Houston. Plus, fellow young standouts react to the guard’s performance.
Isaiah Thomas delivered in the Rising Stars Challenge, notching 18 points, a team-high-tying 10 assists and five rebounds to help lead Team Chuck to a convincing 163-135 victory over Team Shaq on Friday night in Houston.
“It was a great experience,” said Thomas, who extended the Kings winning streak in the rookie-sophomore classic to four years. “I met a lot of people, had fun with the fellow rookies and sophomores and we got the win, so that made it even better.”
The Sacramento guard was humbled as he disclosed the most rewarding part of his first All-Star Weekend experience was witnessing his family’s jubilation.
“I just tried to have fun and tried to play hard,” said No. 22, who also tallied two steals in the contest. “But having my parents out here and having them smile and be happy is what’s most important to me.”
The Tacoma native’s parents and teammates were all smiles throughout the competition, as Thomas knocked down his first four shots from downtown – including two triples in a span of several seconds after nabbing an inbounds pass.
“This is perfect for him – I’ve seen him on YouTube playing in these kinds of games all the time and I even watched him in the Pro-Am in San Francisco this
summer, and this is the type of game that fits him really well,” said Blazers guard Damian Lillard. “He came out and played like it.”
Showcasing his multifaceted skill set among the League’s most talented up-and-comers, the point guard – who was interviewed at halftime by NBA on TNT reporter Craig Sager – drew high praise from the game’s participants.
“Isaiah was balling,” said Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. “Not only was he scoring, but he was getting people involved and he was getting to the rack. He played well.”
“Isaiah started off really hot and definitely gave our team an edge early,” said Pistons guard and Team Chuck teammate Brandon Knight. “He did a good job knocking down shots, and he just plays hard. He does everything right, really.”
Kings legend and NBA on TNT analyst Chris Webber picked Thomas – who notched 14 points and seven assists in the first half – as the game’s top performer.
“My MVP is the last man picked in the NBA Draft,” stated the five-time All-Star during the broadcast. “Isaiah Thomas is going for the MVP right now.”
Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried – who came away with MVP honors – has been impressed with No. 22’s drive and ability to light up the scoreboard.
“He may be small, but he has a big heart and plays with such passion for the game – that’s what I like about him,” said Faried. “He can score – he can fill it up when he wants to.”
Bobcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist echoed the Denver big man’s sentiment.
“He’s one of the best players out right now – in the League, period – I think,” said Kidd-Gilchrist. “He has heart and effort.
“He can do everything. He can go right, he can shoot and he can go left.”
Although Thomas didn’t have the opportunity to throw down a dunk in the exhibition contest, he foresees one on the horizon.
“Coach (Mike Budenholzer) tried to put me back in with two minutes left,” revealed Thomas grinning.
“I have to (dunk) in a game in the second half of the season, though.”
The event wrapped up an eventful and action-packed two days for Thomas.
In addition to the day’s game and practice, he also attended a morning autograph signing, an NBA Cares Day of Service community event and, on Thursday, participated in an afternoon media circuit.
“You’re doing a lot of stuff throughout the day,” he reflected. “But once you look back at it, it went by (quickly).”
- Watch: Isaiah Thomas Postgame Interview
- Stay current with Kings.com for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes Isaiah Thomas All-Star Weekend video coming soon!