Isaiah Thomas Will Pay Tribute To Kobe With His Jersey Number In New Orleans

Isaiah Thomas will make his return to the NBA as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. Thomas, who has not appeared in the Association since his time with the Washington Wizards came to an end last February, joined New Orleans on a 10-day contract, and is eligible to suit up for the team starting on Sunday.

Thomas was officially announced by the team on Saturday afternoon, and in a fun twist, Thomas is going to wear a number that he hasn’t worn at any point during his NBA career.

Shortly after, Thomas took to his Twitter account and explained that this, unsurprisingly, is a way for him to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Thomas has always been someone who made clear how much he admired Bryant. Following Bryant’s passing in a helicopter accident in early-2020, Thomas spoke at length at how much Bryant meant to him, both on and off the basketball court.

“He’s meant everything to me,” Thomas said. “I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant. So it’s like — I just had talked to him last week.”

“I mean, he’s the greatest of all time in life and in basketball. That’s how much I looked up to him,” Thomas said. “His legacy is going to live forever, but this [death] was a dent in everybody’s life that he’s touched, for sure.”

It’s unclear if Thomas will be part of the Pelicans rotation upon his eligibility to play, but with the team dealing with a few injuries right now, he could potentially add a scoring punch in the backcourt.