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Charles Barkley: It was ‘uncomfortable’ to watch Isaiah Thomas cry on sideline one day after sister’s death

04.16.17 at 9:57 pm ET
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points Sunday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas decided to play Sunday one day after his younger sister was killed in a one-car crash. On TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” analyst Charles Barkley implied he thinks it was a mistake.

Prior to tip-off in Game 1 of the Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Bulls, TNT showed footage of Thomas crying on the sidelines next to Avery Bradley, who was consoling him. Barkley said he thinks Thomas appeared too distraught to play.

“I’m not feeling comfortable with him sitting on the sideline crying like that. That makes me uncomfortable, because that tells me he’s not in shape to play” the outspoken commentator said. “I don’t know how this night is going to turn out, but to be sitting on the sideline a few minutes before the game, crying, that makes me uncomfortable for him. That’s just not a good look, in my personal opinion.”

Thomas’ 22-year-old sister, Chyna, died around 5:00 a.m. Saturday when her 1998 Toyota Camry veered off an Interstate in Federal Way, Wash. and crashed into a barrier. When the starting lineups were announced Sunday, Thomas received an emotional welcome from the T.D. Garden crowd. The All-Star point guard led all scorers with 33 points in the Celtics’ 106-102 losing effort.

Shaquille O’Neal, who hosts with Barkley, offered a different viewpoint on the subject. He said he went through a similar situation in his career after his grandmother had passed away, and originally didn’t think he would be able to suit up. But a conversation with his parents changed his mind.

“I didn’t feel like doing anything. The Magic said, ‘Take your time, we don’t need you to come back.” he explained. “I was just traveling. I was in New Jersey, I just drove to Atlanta, drove to Savannah, drove to Dublin. But then my mom and dad said, ‘OK. She’s in a better place, she’s watching you. You need to continue what you do. She’ll be proud of you; she’ll be watching.’ That’s why I played.”

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