Isaiah Thomas, Paul Pierce, ex-Celtics pay tribute to Tommy Heinsohn

Darren Hartwell
·2 min read

I.T., Pierce react to death of Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Isaiah Thomas was a fan favorite during his Boston Celtics tenure. He has Tommy Heinsohn in part to thank.

The iconic Celtics broadcaster, who died Monday at age 86, was a champion of the underdog and gravitated to players who played with passion and grit.

So, when Thomas came to Boston in February 2015 and played his way into a starting job, he quickly became a favorite of Heinsohn, who bestowed a fitting nickname on the 5-foot-9 point guard: "The Little Guy."

Forsberg: Tommy Heinsohn was "Mr. Celtic"

That nickname stuck with Thomas as he blossomed into an All-Star and helped lead the Celtics out of their rebuild -- and it was on Thomas' mind Tuesday when he heard of Heinsohn's passing.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Remembering Tommy Heinsohn | Listen & subscribe 

Thomas joined several other former Celtics players who reacted to the sobering news on Twitter. C's legend Paul Pierce and ex-teammate Kendrick Perkins weighed in, as did recent Boston players Evan Turner and Shane Larkin.

Heinsohn's contributions to the Celtics extend well beyond broadcasting -- he won 10 total titles in Boston as a player and coach -- but his voice is an enduring part of a legacy that C's players will remember fondly. 

UPDATE (4:20 p.m. ET): Celtics wing Jaylen Brown also shared a tribute to Heinsohn on Twitter.

Former Celtics forward and 1981 NBA Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell shared his thoughts on Heinsohn's passing as well.