The Sacramento Kings standout and former Washington star returned home to host a three-day basketball festival in Tacoma dubbed the Memorial Day Zeke-End basketball tournament. The event includes games, skills challenges and guest appearances from NBA players.
The tournament, which is being held at Tacoma’s Foss High, began Saturday morning and concludes Monday.
Before he was ‘Cold-Blooded’, ‘Mr. Irrelevant‘ or the blossoming young star in Sacramento, the 5-9 guard was a superstar at Tacoma’s Curtis High. He once famously scored a record 51 points during a semifinal loss to Franklin High in the 2006 Class 4A state tournament.
The 25-year-old Thomas, who is arguably the biggest basketball star Tacoma has ever produced, has become a role model for young kids, especially those in the 253 area code.
“For him to come back and do what he’s doing, I can’t tell you how big it is for Tacoma and the kids around here,” said Washington State standout DaVonte Lacy, who also starred at Curtis. “We’ve kind of always been in the shadow of Seattle and no disrespect to those guys, but there’s a rich history and tradition for basketball in Tacoma as well.
“For whatever reasons, we just haven’t had guys make it to Isaiah’s level and who have been able to give back to the city. I’m so glad he’s doing that. It inspires me to do the same thing one day and I know there’s going to be some kids who show up this weekend and they’re going to be inspired too.
“Where else – especially in Tacoma – can you get a chance to see and meet NBA players up close and personal?”
NBA players playing throughout the weekends so come out and watch some good basketball, eat some good food and listen to some good music
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas2) May 24, 2014
Thomas’ rookie contract expires in July and he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. He figures to receive a few lucrative offers considering he’s coming off of his best year as a pro when he averaged 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds – all career highs. He started 54 of 74 games last season for Sacramento, which finished 28-54.
After the NBA season, Thomas returned to his home in Renton and spends most days with his two little kids Jaiden (3) and James (2).