Celtics star guard Isaiah Thomas learned at practice Saturday afternoon that his younger sister, Chyna, had died in a one-car accident. The 22-year-old wasn’t wearing a seat belt when the car she was driving drifted onto the shoulder and hit a large metal pole at around 5 a.m.
Despite an experiencing an insurmountable amount of grief, Thomas made the decision to play in Game 1 of playoffs Sunday night against the Bulls. Before tipoff, TNT’s Inside the NBA aired footage of Thomas overcome with emotion during the pre-game shoot around. This prompted Charles Barkley to make a confusingly insensitive comment about Charles, himself, being “uncomfortable” by the sight of Thomas breaking down.
“I’m not feeling comfortable with him sitting on the sideline crying like that. That makes me uncomfortable because that tells me he’s not in shape to play. I don’t know how this night is going to 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.”
Barkley obviously didn’t intend to come off as an insensitive tough guy, but once the Internet outrage machine gets churning, it’s a runaway train.
Despite the emotional night, Isaiah led all scorers with 33 points in the Celtics 106-102 loss.
“He was incredible,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s an amazing, amazing player. [An] amazing person. Days won’t get easier for him, but he somehow plays like that.”