Isaiah Thomas impresses in Utah debut, says he’ll never give up on his NBA dream

The former NBA All-Star scored 32 points in his first game with the Salt Lake City Stars.

(Courtesy of Salt Lake City Stars) Isaiah Thomas drives against the Texas Legends on Thursday, March 7, 2024, at the Maverik Center. Thomas made his Stars debut and scored 32 points.

West Valley City • Isaiah Thomas came around a screen and received the handoff from Micah Potter. He rose up with confidence and buried the left-handed 3-pointer.

And that was just in his first 10 seconds of action.

“That’s what I do. I score the basketball,” Thomas said when asked if he was surprised his first shot went in. “So I wasn’t surprised at all. I was surprised by all of them damn misses I had.”

Thomas made his G League debut Thursday with the Salt Lake City Stars, who signed him this week. He started the game and finished with a game-high 32 points and four assists on 7-of-23 shooting in 39 minutes.

The Stars beat the Texas Legends 127-116.

“I’m just super thankful for the opportunity,” Thomas said. “And I’m here to show that I haven’t lost a step.”

Thomas hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2021-22 season. He didn’t show much rust in the first half, but struggled shooting the ball in the third quarter and at times looked winded.

But it was the first of many opportunities he will have to intrigue an NBA team enough for him to get a call-up. In December 2021, he scored 42 points with the Grand Rapids Gold and signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Lakers four days later.

With a little over a month left in the NBA season before the playoffs start, a repeat of 2021 is possible for Thomas.

The former two-time NBA All-Star turned 35 last month — an age considered “old” in the NBA. He said what keeps him going is a love of the game.

“I just love it,” Thomas said. “I think when the love goes away, then it’s time for me to figure out what’s next. Every time I step on the floor, I get that same feeling since I was a kid.”

Utah Jazz president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and assistant coach Jason Terry attended the game. Late in the first quarter, as Thomas prepared to inbound the ball on the sideline, he greeted Terry.

A few fans sitting behind the Texas bench chanted “MVP” while Thomas shot a free throw. It wasn’t like his Boston Celtics days, but it served as a reminder that he’s still a fan favorite.

Thomas said he “won’t be satisfied” if he doesn’t make an NBA roster this year or at any time in the future. But he was defiantly positive, saying “I speak things into existence” and he knows he’ll make a roster.

“I’m not going to give it up until nobody calls and they’re like, ‘Just stop,’” Thomas said. “This has just been my life. It’s been an amazing run and I’m going to just keep it going.”