Former Celtics All-Star plays 5-on-5 with Emerson students

Sunday night became an unforgettable experience for a group of Emerson students when former Boston Celtics All-Star and current Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas stayed in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker gym after team practice to play pickup basketball.

Sophomore Patrick Mulligan said it was a dream of his to play with Thomas.

“It’s every kid’s dream to play basketball with their favorite NBA player and [Thomas] is one of my favorites,” Mulligan said.

Ten hours earlier, Thomas tweeted out to his followers asking for an available gym in the Boston area to practice in. Freshman Jeremy Guerin said he did not believe Thomas would come to Emerson on Sunday, especially after Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier invited Thomas on Twitter to play one-on-one at the Celtics facility. But to his amazement, Thomas and the Nuggets showed up that evening.

Guerin said the scrimmage with Thomas was unbelievable.

“It was definitely surreal,” Guerin said. “I woke up [Monday] and I’m like ‘Did this really happen?’ It was definitely insane. I was on his team and Pat [Mulligan] was, unfortunately, against him. It was really fun.”

Thomas stayed after the Nuggets’ practice to play with several Emerson students who went down to observe the Nuggets practice. In a full court five-on-five scrimmage, Thomas’ team won 11-9.

“We saw Isaiah’s tweet that he needed a gym to workout in Boston and we’re like ‘okay, we’re gonna tweet back at him with Emerson,’” Guerin said. “Then Terry Rozier was like ‘nah, dude just come to the [Boston Celtics] practice facility,’ so we’re all like ‘this has no chance of happening.’ We came down just to shoot around because we didn’t think anyone was going to be here, and the [Denver] Nuggets were here and Isaiah was, too.”

Freshman Max Murphy was on his way to get dinner at the Max Cafe when he found out about Thomas practicing in the gym a few floors below him. Murphy said Thomas invited some of the spectating students, including Murphy, to come down and play.

“Isaiah Thomas was like ‘yeah, just come on down, we’ll play’ and we were like ‘wait, really?’ and he said ‘yeah, come on man’ so we just went down and started playing,” Murphy said.

Mulligan described the dreamlike moment when he dribbled towards Thomas after securing a rebound.

“I got a rebound and turned down the court and started dribbling and Isaiah just stopped to play defense and looked right at me,” Mulligan said. “That was crazy: to dribble down the court and be staring at Isaiah Thomas.”

More students made their way to the gym after seeing Thomas play in a Snapchat video taken during the scrimmage. Thomas offered to take pictures with anyone present in the gym and retweeted some of the photos on his personal Twitter account.

Murphy said Thomas showed his class and character while playing with them.

“I’m not the biggest basketball fan in the world, but I know basketball and I know Isaiah Thomas because I watched him at the Garden when he was on the Celtics so it was just crazy,” Murphy said. “It’s awesome how down-to-earth he was—he was just super nice and just there to have a good time.”    

The Nuggets are scheduled to play the Celtics today at 7:30 p.m. at the TD Garden.

Update: In an email, Denver Nuggets Director of Media Relations Nick O’Hayre said to the Beacon he is glad the Emerson students had a great experience but said the Nuggets are unable to provide a comment on the story. 

Sports Editor Aaron J. Miller did not edit this story due to a conflict of interest.

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