January 23, 2017 | 7:42 pm EST Update
“I think that’s the difference between me and other people,” Thomas told me as we sat in an office at the Celtics practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts. “Some people’s opportunity comes and they waste it, because they’re not ready for that moment. I remember Jason Terry always telling me, ‘Opportunity doesn’t go away, it goes to somebody else.’ You just gotta be ready for that moment. To this day, I’ve always been ready for the moment that came my way.”
Thomas told me he views the first three quarters as a setup; in the fourth he gets “ultra-aggressive” and unleashes moves that he has saved to use against fatigued players. “I want to embrace that moment of the fourth quarter,” Thomas says. “The fourth quarter isn’t for everybody. It’s tighter situations, it means a little more, and the game is usually on the line a little more in that fourth quarter. The great players embrace those moments.”
Erik Spoelstra isn’t sure how the new voting format that determines All-Star starters works. And he isn’t sure how Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was left out of the Western Conference’s starting lineup. “How is Russell Westbrook not in the starting lineup?” Spoelstra asked Monday morning.
“I know how important it is to players and especially to guys that are giving their heart and souls into the game and should be rewarded for it,” Spoelstra said. “So I do have to admit in some years past, I would just given it to my assistants. Not anymore. We actually have a staff meeting about it so we’re responsible. I think that’s the ultimate respect for players.”