A poem by
My Delicate Rose,
Each line of the skin is for every time
you hold this hand in yours
Words can only do so much
my feelings are known by touch
The mind’s distress can sometimes
be eased by my caress
We argue over nothing turning
to fighting over everything
You kiss this hand and make
my heart yours again
The lines twist and turn for
the trials that we face
The curves form a flower
on a vine that blooms
This hand is an extension not
of my body but my love
My Warmth, you inspire me.
Azumi (Hana Sugisaki) is the best illustrator in art class quietly working on a painting. Mean girls suddenly descended on her like birds of prey. They grabbed tubes of paint and started squeezing them on her palette. Out of desperation Azumi grabs the tray out of their hands.
Next scene her mother Futaba (Rie Miyazawa) gets a call from the principal, there’s trouble with Azumi. Futaba sees Azumi with paint all over her face and clothes. Principal says, “She claims she did it herself.” After another incident of bullying, Azumi retreats to her bed hiding under the covers. Futaba pulls the blanket, “Stand up for yourself! You have to face them.” In tears Azumi says, “ I’m inferior to everyone else. I’m not like you at all.” Futaba says in exasperation, “We’re no different you and me. Where do you think my strength comes from if not you?”
HER LOVE BOILS BATH WATER is just one of 20 titles in the 20th Eiga Sai Film Festival running in Shang Cineplex, Shangri La Plaza Mall from July 6 to 16, 2017. Tickets are at the cost effective rate of only P100 each. After the Shang Plaza Mall run screenings will continue at the U.P Film Center, CCP Little Theater and move on to Davao, Cebu, Baguio, Bacolod and Ilo-ilo until August 29, 2017. For exact schedules and updates log on to the official JFF | EIGASAI Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/eigasaiPH
HER LOVE… Writer Director Ryota Nakano was at the opening last July 6th at Shang Cineplex to grace the event and discuss details of the film with moviegoers and Pinoy filmmakers.
HER LOVE BOILS BATH WATER 湯を沸かすほどの熱い愛 has earned numerous prestigious awards: BEST PICTURE, BEST SCREENPLAY from 41st Hochi Awards, 26th Japanese Movie Critics Awards, and BEST ACTRESS (Rie Miyazawa) and BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Hana Sugisaki) from 40th Japan Academy Prize, to name a few.
This is one of the most touching stories of maternal love and sacrifice perfect for all ages. The strong familial bond is something that Filipino audiences can easily relate to. The rich Japanese culture, traditions are in full display especially when they go on a road trip seeing the most iconic landmarks such as Mount Fuji and eating deep sea crabs in the Northwest region.
Film star Rie Miyazawa plays Futaba Sachino who is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has only a few months to live. Struggling to raise her teenage daughter Azumi, she decides to look for her estranged husband who abandoned them years before. In order to support the family Futaba reopens the old bathhouse in their property. Each character has his or her secret tragedy and pain. They learn that the only way to cope is to lean on each other as a family.
In the Philippines, just days before the opening of Eiga Sai, there was a news report of an infant left at the NAIA airport. The infant was found in the male restroom, but was otherwise healthy and unharmed. This is an indication of the reality that parents do abandon their children, in some cases even abuse and harm them. One can only imagine the experience of this child growing up, not knowing his birthparents. HER LOVE… allows us an intimate look into how a child who was abandoned struggles with identity and how this longing to know one’s parents is carried throughout life.
Rie Miyazawa is one of the most recognizable Japanese actresses and also the most awarded. She starred in last year’s Eiga Sai opening film PALE MOON where she played a middle-aged bank employee who has an affair with a college student. This time she is the strong-minded and independent Futaba. This is the strength of character that allows her to raise her daughter on her own even when her husband leaves her. She is very believable not because she seems emotionally invincible. In spite of her weak moments when she cries, she soldiers on and overcomes.
Rie excels in the little moments when she can’t help but be an affectionate person not just to her own family but to people in general. In one scene she pulls the chin hair of Private Investigator Takimoto (Tarō Suruga) and wipes the cheek of his adorable daughter Mayu. Her character immediately endears herself to the child.
Writer Director Nakano in an interview after the screening said, “She’s very professional. There’s a very strong persuasive element to her acting. That was the biggest thing I felt the persuasiveness, the power of her performance.” The dedication of Miyazawa is peerless. During the portions where her character takes a turn for the worse, there is a real physical transformation, “She really loses weight, and she becomes thinner. She goes into her role deeply.”
Luminary Young actors
Rising star Hana Sugisaki plays teenage daughter Azumi Sachino. Her role may be the most difficult in the film. Bullies in school bog her down and worse she also has to contend with the turmoil in her family. The way Sugisaki was able to portray the growth in her character in finding that inner strength to face these battles was excellent. The performance earned her 4 Best Supporting Actress nods (Hochi Film Awards, Japanese Academy Awards, Blue Ribbon, Japanese Critics) along with Best Newcomer (Japanese Academy Awards). Director Nakano admitted that he wanted to work with Sugisaki and had her in mind for the role.
The child actors are the unheralded thespians of the cast. Nakano admits that Japan is rich with young talent, which he discovered through auditions. Aoi Itō as 9 year old Ayuko Katase has the unenviable role of the new or younger daughter of absentee husband Kazuhiro Sachino played by Joe Odagiri. Ayuko can’t relate to her emotionally distant ‘father’ and has not seen her own mother for sometime. At such a young age she is able to act out the difficulties of trying to fit in with her ‘new’ family.
The role of Mayu at age 6, daughter of the Private Investigator Takimoto (Tarō Suruga), is un-credited in the official website. Which is unfortunate as she is one of the most adorable child actors in Asian cinema today.
Cuisine plays a huge role in this typically Japanese movie. Shabu-shabu in their household is only eaten on special occasions such as birthdays. This is the savory soup of veggies and strips of wagyu beef. They are added into the broth cooked in an open pot right on the table. Shabu shabu is also a means for Futaba to shower affection to her family and bring them together on the table. Their home is located just outside Tokyo in Ashikaga City where Shabu shabu is popular.
Futaba also brings her two daughters on a road trip to Toda Harbor in Shizuoka prefecture. This is where they see a picturesque sunset with the iconic figure of Mount Fuji looming in the horizon. This is one of the few places where they could taste deep-sea spider crabs that are easily thrice as big as the typical variety. The experience of the special meal is one of the happiest for the two kids.
Director Nakano intimated that he used some personal experiences to write the touching screenplay. He lost his father at age 6 and was raised by his mother. Some of the characters are based on real people. With this film he believes that by contemplating trials and making those who love us our family, we are able to see the true joys in our life.
JFF | EIGASAI 2017 is generously supported by Shangri-La Plaza, Shang Cineplex, UP Film Institute, Cultural Center of the Philippines, SM Supermalls, SM City Baguio, SM City Bacolod, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Japanese Association of Northern Luzon, Sa Lubong-Baguio, Cordillera Green Network, JT International (Philippines) Inc., Viva Communications Inc., Tagalized Movie Channel (TMC), Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., Akira, SumoSam and Richmonde Hotel Ortigas.
Disbelief was going through Filipinos minds watching Senator Manny Pacquiao get overwhelmed by the aggressive, bigger Jeff Horn. From the opening bell Horn went right at him, forcing him to the ropes. It didn’t matter if the shots were inaccurate they came flying at him. The volume of body shots was also surprising. The body punches may have taken the sting off Manny’s attack especially in the later rounds.
We were so used to seeing him dominate his opponents we were all shocked to see him like this. In the first three rounds, I think he may have been trying to time a haymaker as Horn was coming in. So he wouldn’t lead, meaning try to punch ahead of Horn. It may have been his strategy to wait in the pocket for that perfect opening to land that killer left hook or right straight that had felled countless opponents in the past.
Just like that legendary knockout of Ricky Hatton who came surging at him. Manny caught him with that picture perfect left hook that sent him reeling to the canvas. The technique is deceptive it takes incredible, speed, timing and power for all of it to come together. The problem now Horn was getting ‘in’ and throwing punches before he could hit him with that perfect counter. Instead Manny was the one getting hit.
This made him look like he was pulling his punches. Was it mental or physical? We really don’t know. He looked tentative waiting for the counter. And after the first 3 rounds when this strategy wasn’t working, why wasn’t he able to adjust or change his game plan?
Enrique Gil for CLEAR Cool Sport Menthol
The moments when Pacquiao was forced to the ropes by Horn was also telling. Horn was just busier on the inside landing to the body, short punches to the face. In the past, he could just slip away using his footwork and head movement or even better punch his way out of the clinch. In close quarters Horn seemed to trap his arm and sneak in some damage. This is where the size and strength of the taller Aussie came to play. Before, against Antonio Margarito and legendary Oscar Dela Hoya or the more recent Rios and Alghieri, there were never any problems in the clinch. All of them are at least several inches taller. So prior to the fight, height and reach wasn’t deemed a factor.
While Manny did not suffer a knock down you could see his head getting thrown back from the punches. They were doing damage. For Pinoys who care for the People’s Champ it was painful to watch.
Tanduay Derek: Tanduay Rhum is the drink of choice for Derek Ramsay – from The One TVC
9th Round Comeback
Manny’s shining moment came in the 9th round, when he finally landed a combo and then another staggering Horn. The roles were suddenly reversed. Pacquiao had him on the run, trying to finish him off. Horn looked glassy eyed ready to tumble and buckle under the power. But he was able to survive and go back to his corner.
The damage was such that Referee Mark Nelson, said to him in the corner ““YOU’VE had enough. Show me something in this round or I’m stopping the fight.” If there was a moment Manny could comeback to win the fight it should have been the 10th round where fans thought he had the time to finish him off…but he didn’t. Horn recovered stood his ground and even resumed his attack through to the 11th and 12th rounds. At that point Horn had won more rounds and was ahead in the scorecards getting the win.
Unilever Phil tapped Steph Curry to endorse Rexona in basketball crazy Philippines
Questions come back to haunt MP, why didn’t he pursue those combos or was more aggressive earlier? If Horn was hurt in the 9th why couldn’t he put him away in the 10th or later rounds?
The simple and obvious answer is that age has finally caught up with our beloved hero. Filipinos have been in denial, including myself, believing him to be invincible and even immortal in the ring. For so long, the whole national psyche clung to his rising fortunes and triumphs. He’d lift up the spirits of his country 100 million people strong. It didn’t matter if it was Yolanda, typhoons, natural disasters, economic and political crises.
Nation’s Hopes and Dreams
The young Senator would literally BE THERE distributing relief coming from his own purse, whether it was an earthquake in Bohol or just giving away turkeys to Pinoys or the less fortunate in the U.S for Thanksgiving.
We didn’t even realize how much we’ve been relying on him as a people for so long. At 38 he could have called it quits years ago. But being the warrior that he is even he didn’t want to let it go. If there was anyone who’s worthy of a messianic complex it should be him.
He has shouldered the burden of a whole nation’s hopes and dreams for too long. I think, that’s why even if he is in literal pain he fights through it. He feels he has to fight for us even when he should obviously stop.
Long Term Damage
In boxing there’s only one certainty: you get hurt whether or not you win or lose.
Concussion damage to the head isn’t a mystery; it’s a medical fact. Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith in CONCUSSION) was saying something people didn’t want to hear. American football is a dangerous sport that has long-term effects on the human brain. His study points out the simple and obvious fact that our brains are encased in liquid. As the head experiences trauma the brain is jolted out of position and hits the skull causing massive damage. One can only imagine how much damage the human brain can take in the sport of boxing, where the head is punched over and over and over again…in one fight.
Retired football players years after their playing days exhibited symptoms of insanity, random violent behavior, voices in their head, endangering themselves and their family. One only has to look at what happened to our own former boxing champ in Rolando Navarete who is now in a pitiful state. Manny you’re the one giving dole outs to Navarete when he drops by your house in Gen San giving him food and money. You’ve seen the long-term damage that boxers can suffer from head trauma.
Because what makes our people great is what is in our hearts
The brutality that makes boxing beautiful also makes it dangerous. Buboy Fernandez, Freddie Roach, they’re all aware that you’re putting your life on the line each time you climb the ring. Roach said he’d be the one to ask you to retire if you lost against Horn. You could have quit when you were knocked out by Marquez and we supported you. You could have quit when you lost against Timothy Bradley and Mayweather and yet we still supported you.
Manny, you’ve transcended your sport you’re now a senator. Your MP Promotions has discovered Jerwin Ancajas who successfully defended his IBF Jr Bantamweight Belt in the undercard. This is the time for you to find new champions and impart your knowledge.
Let Go And Let God
You’ve taken a lot of punishment, thousands of punches throughout the years for us Filipinos. You can let go and let God steer your life in a new direction. That’s why now we have to say thank you, we love you, but we need you to fight for us in a different arena. We know you want to be president and may want to earn your war chest through the sweat of your brow, unlike your politician friends.
But whether you’re a Senator, a President or citizen Pacquiao we know you’ll fight for us. And you need a clear and healthy mind to do so. You had a great run Manny some say the greatest ever now its time to move on.
You’ve shown that win or lose you congratulate your opponent with a hug. You always manage a smile for our people through the most difficult times. This is the heart or puso of the Filipino. A sentiment embodied in a song by Lea Salonga, Bamboo and Sarah Geronimo:
Babangon sa bawat pagkakataon
Ngingiti anu man ang panahon
Lilipad para abutin ang lahat
Pusong walang pagod tumanggap
Nagniningning sa gilas
A Poem by Jude Bautista
Be famous the right way
Not for its own sake
There are those who do it
Through a sex tape
Be famous the right way
Never be in haste
One’s reputation is
Not a thing to waste
Be famous the right way
Not by killing people and
Calling yourself a leader
You can’t justify rape by
Who it is you murder
Be famous the right way
We’re all caught up in the now
We want the world to look
At us somehow
Search for an endeavor
That sparks a passion
Reach for the stars through
Sacrifice and hard work
And you will no longer
Seek fulfillment in the
Approval of others
For fame is fleeting,
Pray that you learn:
Finding and sharing your talent
Is a reward in itself
Kristen Stewart (Maureen) was filled by dread and fear as she heard the footsteps toward her apartment door. She carried on a conversation with a mysterious texter on her phone without the slightest idea of his or her identity. The texts were threatening and drawing her at the same time. Whoever the texter, was now behind her door. Then fear eventually turned to curiosity, she looked through the peephole; no one was there. As she looks down the floor, she sees a white envelope slipped under her door. She opens it and finds a Crowne Plaza hotel key card.
Instead of her usual Lacoste shirt, she feels daring. Remembering what she texted back, wanting what was forbidden, she wears her client’s designer black ‘dress’. It was more a collection of black straps than an actual dress, exposing a lot of the skin, most especially her breasts and nipples. An overcoat goes on top to cover her body and scoots away in her Peugeot scooter. As soon as she enters the room she receives a text ‘Send me a Picture’. She goes to the full-length mirror, takes off the overcoat and takes a picture of herself. The texter replies, ‘I prefer you like this.’ She takes the covers off the bed, lies in it, caresses her breasts through the dress and touches herself.
PERSONAL SHOPPER starring Kristen Stewart and directed by Olivier Assayas is just one of many enticing movies in the 22nd French Film Festival running from June 9-17, 2017 at the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas and the Bonifacio High Street Cinemas. The fest includes Pinoy films NAKAW, MA’ROSA & ON THE JOB on June 12 at Greenbelt.
Having won Cannes Best Director for Olivier Assayas, PERSONAL SHOPPER is one of the most anticipated screenings in the fest. Pinoy fans can watch it for the reasonable fee of only P100.
Lacoste Timeless, The Film
Kristen Stewart fans will find a more sophisticated, if not a sexier version of the TWILIGHT star. The journey of self discovery is not easy to visualize much less portray. This is one role where Stewart has shown her evolution as an actress from her earlier roles. Especially since being a ‘personal shopper’ can be degrading at times. The job is a cross between a stylist, personal assistant and errand girl to a fashion icon Kyra Gellman played by Nora von Waldstätten.
Stewart in real life as a Hollywood star supposedly has armies of personal shoppers. Kristen was also cast in LIZZIE to be released later this year, set in 1892 based on the real life of Lizzie Borden (played by Chloe Sevigny) accused of murdering her own parents with an axe. Stewart also has Sci-Fi flick UNDERWATER which will be released in 2018.
An interesting choice by writer/ director Assayas is to not have Stewart speak a word of French (except for bonjour), which may be surprising since it is set in the heart of Paris. This gives an impression of arrogance because her role in Maureen was supposed to have lived there for at least 2 years. Everyone from jewelers to designers would speak English to her while everyone else spoke French, except for other American characters.
This gave the impression the Americans had this small world or club amongst themselves. And perhaps also allow other foreigners, viewers to not be so intimidated with their ignorance or weakness in French, when visiting the City of Lights. In the Philippines, it’s a given that tourists can easily survive with English. There are expats who’ve lived here for decades without learning Filipino because they can get away with it.
PERSONAL SHOPPER’s story begins with Maureen having to deal with the death of her twin brother Lewis. The two are bonded together in many ways, one of which is their ability to sense ‘spirits’. As kids they make a pact to contact the other, give a sign from the after life if one of them passes away. So there’s a very strong element of mysticism in the movie. Neither of them were religious or brought up in a particular faith so, even Maureen as an adult was still unsure of the existence of an afterlife. She’s unsure of what she sees sometimes as spirits or souls or whatever beings.
That’s where the brilliance of Olivier Assayas comes in. He takes us on that journey of self discovery of finding out what Maureen comes to believe about the afterlife and even herself. The movie touches on a lot of things like fine art, fashion and psychics without losing the humanity in the story. In this sense, it is totally different from a Hollywood film where you can pigeonhole them into genres, such as horror, sexual thriller or drama. It has all of that in an unlikely mix much like real life in other words it’s very French.
The trio of Kristen Stewart, Nora Von Waldstatten and Lars Eidinger has worked with Olivier Assayas in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA in 2014. The lead star of that critically acclaimed film is Juliet Binoche. For PERSONAL SHOPPER, Nora is best cast in the role of Kyra Gellman (pronounced Keera), a wealthy fashion icon, who on occasion can be a bitchy boss. Maureen would occasionally Google Kyra’s pictures so she could see the clothes she picked up for her high profile boss. Designer Karl Lagerfeld has a cameo as Kyra’s pal in a fashion event.
Nora does have that convincing aristocratic air. In real life she has Austrian noble blood as descendant of Baroness Von Waldstatten who was the influential patroness of Mozart.
Enigmatic character Ingo is played by German actor Lars Eidinger. He is a respected and admired theater and TV actor with a long list of credits to his name. To this end he was recently made a jury member of the 66th International Berlin Film Fest. He is also an established musician and DJ. He has scored several films and worked as music producer of other artists as well. His wife Ulrike Eidinger happens to be a famous opera singer.
All in all we should take advantage of the opportunity to watch PERSONAL SHOPPER and many other impressive movies in the French film festival. These are gems we would not be able to see otherwise.
For the film line up and screening schedule visit:
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Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
France has a long history of supporting Filipino artists and filmmakers. This year the short film NAKAW by Noel Escondo and Arvin Belarmino will be part of the 22nd French Film Festival. The fest will run from June 9-17, 2017 at the Ayala Malls cinemas in Greenbelt 3 and the Bonifacio High Street Central Square Cinemas.
Audiences can get the best contemporary French cinema for the reasonable fee of only P100 pesos. June 12, Independence Day, however, is a special date set aside for Filipino cinema. For the first time ever, the French Film Festival will dedicate one weekend for free public outdoor screenings at Circuit Makati on June 17 and 18, 2017.
Prestigious titles include Cannes awardees: MA’ ROSA, directed by Brillante Mendoza (Main Competition, Best Actress Award, 2016); ON THE JOB, directed by Erik Matti (Director’s Fortnight, 2013); and ANINO by Raymond Red (Short Film Corner, Palme d’Or for Best Short Film, 2000).
2017 has seen a resurgence of talent in the short film format for Filipinos. Apart from NAKAW Cannes included 3 other Filipinos in the Short Film Corner: LOVE REMEMBERS by Ralston Jover – starring OJ Mariano and Mercedes Cabral, AYO AYO by Reena Dunque and BLOOD AND INK (Dugo At Tinta) by Jill Damatac. (from ManilaTimes.net)
While Carlo Francisco Manatad’s short film, JODILERKS DELA CRUZ, EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH is an entry in the festival’s 56th Semaine De La Critique (International Critics’ Week) a precursor to Cannes Film fest.
NAKAW is an intriguing 7-minute short film that was shot in one continuous take without cuts. Filmmaker Arvin Bleramino describes it as “a social realism crime film. It’s about a boy who snatched a woman’s purse. 5 lives were changed because of what happened.” NAKAW will also be a part of this year’s CINEMALAYA Film fest.
Alfred Hitchcock made the one take technique famous in the classic ROPE. In the full-length movie he was able to conceal the cuts when the camera would go through doors. A lot of filmmakers have tried to duplicate the feat since then. Most recently rapper Gloc 9’s music video HOY also employed this technique:
NAKAW was shot in a hidden slum area in Cavite. Belarmino had experienced filmmaking using the 2-camera set up before. The one continuous take fascinated and challenged him and his co director. Asked what he wanted audiences to take away from it he said, “We were able to magnify what’s happening in the slum areas. Its like nandun ka talaga sa eksena.” Executive Producer Patsy Ferrer added, “Its also getting people excited about short films. Giving short films an importance as a medium because we always see full length, when it comes to indie. Pero short film di masyado na papansin.”
The French Embassy’s Charge D’Affaires Laurent Legodec made note of another important and related event, “Brillante Mendoza was chosen by the French agency (Institut Francais) to be a mentor to the young filmmakers from all over the world as part of La Fabrique Cinema, a film production workshop that was held earlier this month. This is also a sign that what we are doing is important, that what we are able to reinforce our exchanges and cultural dialogue between France, the Philippines and the rest of the world.”
Legodec continued, “Philippine cinema stands out in the region. France is proud to be a very strong partner in developing this sector in the country. In fact there are many, many opportunities for France and the Philippines to work closer together, not just in film and culture but also in trade, the sciences, education, infrastructure, transport, sustainable energy and so on and so forth.”
In fact our country has immediately reaped from the partnership. Carlo Francisco Manatad who participated in Cannes with short film, JODILERKS DELA CRUZ, EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH, was himself a participant of the La Fabrique Cinema workshop the previous year.
The 22nd French Film Festival in Manila is presented by the Embassy of France to the Philippines, Institut Francais, the Alliance Francaise de Manille and de Cebu, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, in cooperation with the Ayala Malls, Central Square, Circuit Makati and the SSI Group Inc, and with the support of Peugeot Philippines, Delsey, Marithe Francois Girbaud, Paris Delice, Le Cellier, Don Papa, Monin, ThinkBIT, Cignal and media partners Expat Newspaper, the ABS CBN News Channel, Rogue Manila, L’Officiel Manila, Art Plus Magazine and Manilascope.
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PhilFrance: Feel French! Celebrates 70 Years of Franco Philippine Friendship
The French Film Festival is part of PhilFrance: Feel French, a festival to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines this year. Throughout 2017 the Embassy of France to the Philippines, together with its partners, will organize a series of events that will give the Filipino public an opportunity to ‘feel France’ in everyday life. The line up includes the following events:
–Fete Dela Musique (June 17 at the A Venue Mall Parking Lot and June 23 at Puerto real in Intramuros Manila)
–Revel Unraveled French Classical Music Concert (June 22 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines)
–Tour de Manille a cycling event that coincides with the Tour de France (July 9 at the North Park, SM By the Bay)
–Bon Appetit: A French food market in Manila ( September 22 to 24 at Central Square, Bonifacio High Street)
–A job fair and employability forum for the underprivileged youth (September)
–French Volunteerism Day (October)
–A series of conferences on architecture and urbanism, agriculture and social sciences
–Networking events, business meetings and start-up programs involving the French business community
For more information log on to:
I have to confess I am one of many who didn’t give Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas a chance, at least initially. My excuse is that his namesake is my childhood idol. Isiah Lord Thomas III of the Detroit Pistons was a back-to-back champion, twelve time all-star and hall of famer who was also known as the Smiling Assassin. ‘Lord’ is also considered one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players of all time easily the best Detroit Piston ever.
No matter how unfair or even illogical the comparison, there was this feeling that the current Isaiah more popularly known as I.T. would never be as good as the ‘original’. While ‘Lord’ was already considered small at 6’1”, I.T. is even smaller at 5’9”. In a league where NBA guards are 6’4” and even more athletically gifted and fast – John Wall or super shooters like Steph Curry there’s not a lot of fans or pundits who could expect him to excel.
(Unilever Phil tapped Steph Curry to endorse Rexona in basketball crazy Philippines)
But that’s exactly what he did. These days especially with the dramatic Boston win over the Washington Wizards in Game 7 and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, I.T. is finally getting the attention and respect he deserves.
He averaged 29 points per game this season, but what’s even more impressive is when he scores. He averages 10.1 pts in the 4th quarter. From boston.com: Thomas is averaging more points in the fourth quarter than any NBA player in at least 20 years.
If he continues his 4thQ excellence he could be the most clutch point guard to ever play the game. This season he also made ALL NBA second team displacing the likes of Chris Paul and Damien Lillard. ALL NBA first team guards were MVP rivals Russell Westbrook who averaged a triple double and James Harden. (courtesy of the STARTERS)
I.T’s father James Thomas, was a long time L.A. native and Laker fan, moved to Tacoma, Washington. He made a bet with a friend with his son’s name on the line, sure that the Lakers would beat the Pistons in the finals (1989). But the birth came several months earlier than the finals and by then decided to go with it. His mother, Tina Baldtrip, insisted on the biblical spelling and adding an ‘a’, from the Pistons’ Hall of Famer’s version. Thus he was born Isaiah Jamar Thomas. He also adopted the same nickname Zeke apart from ‘Big Head’.
He took Lord’s number 11 which he used for his high school stint. His mom Tina arranged for IT to meet Isiah Thomas when he was scouting for the Knicks in University of Washington. After the Piston Great gave him an inspiring talk, the two became text mates.
One of the big influences in his game is Allen Iverson. You can see this when he uses his quickness and crossovers. They met for the first time before the start of this season. A.I. pointing at IT, “This is what makes me happy to be me. Little killers grow up to be real killers. This is it right here, this is the future”, quoted from the preseason docu BOOK OF ISAIAH.
I.T. had a stellar collegiate career in University of Washington earning the PAC-10 Freshman of the Year and ALL PAC 10 in his sophomore and junior years. In spite of this the Sacramento Kings picked him in the second round, 60th overall.
Best Record in the East
Since 2016 after being traded from Phoenix to Boston, I.T. was putting up the numbers worthy of a ‘star’ or at least enough to be the Celtics’ leader. THIS was also a break out season for I.T. making his second ALL-STAR appearance. More importantly, the Celtics were winning. Still no one actually believed they could steal the number one record in the East from the mighty Cavs. And yet they manage to do so down the wire. It came down to the last 5 games or so of the season but the Celts manage to get a 53-20 record bettering the Cavs’ 51-31.
Celtics vs Bulls and sister Chyna’s Death
Since Boston was able to garner the best regular season record in the East, most people thought they’d easily win the first round series against the Bulls. Chicago had been in disarray; Rajon Rondo had difficulty adjusting to his new team, Dwyane Wade was also not as dominant as he used to be. But then on April 15, the night before Game 1 of the series, there was tragic news for I.T. Chyna Thomas his half sister (shared the same dad James Thomas), died in a car accident near their hometown of Tacoma, Washington.
In Game 1, I.T. came out to a rousing ovation from Boston fans who appreciated their star point guard suiting up in spite of his personal loss. Dwyane Wade however, overcame the effects of father time by scoring 26 points, 11 Rebounds and 8 assists to lead the Bulls to a 106-102 win. In Game 2 Jimmy Butler and Wade both had 22pts while Rondo came alive with 14 assists for the Bulls domination: 111-97 of the Celtics. At that point fans and sports analysts started writing them off, saying they were better in the regular season than post.
I.T. by then had flown to Tacoma for his sister’s funeral and was joined by teammates. Most notably Avery Bradley who was his friend since high school. Rondo also injured his hand in Game 2. In Chicago, the Celtics seemed to get things together. Al Horford had a monster game 18 points 8 rebounds. I.T. had a strong second half with a total of 18 pts 9 assists for a Boston win 104-87 in Game 3. Celtics never looked back since then closing out the series 4-2 in Game 6.
Second Round Underdogs
Although Boston had a deeper bench, almost everyone picked the Wizards in this series. The firepower of what may be the best backcourt in the Eastern conference of John Wall and Bradley Beal would be just too much to handle for any team. And even when the series was tied at 3 a piece with each home team winning- game 7 at the TD Garden, Boston was still the underdogs. Stephen A. Smith (of ESPN) and even former Celtic guard Eddie House still chose the Wizards during a guesting at radio show The Herd.
The odds were certainly stacked against Boston even if they had home court advantage. In my mind became one of the most dramatic Playoffs Series in recent years. Yes, even more dramatic than the Cavs overcoming Warriors’ 3-1 lead in the finals last year.
It’s WAR not the Playoffs
The Boston vs Washington series was tough, physical and old school. This isn’t a competition, its war. People were getting hurt. This harkens to before the hand check rule and flagrant fouls. Although Boston won Game 1 (123-111), I.T. got an inadvertent elbow from Otto Porter knocking one front tooth out cleanly. Two more were damaged but still had to be pulled out. In spite of losing the tooth, he still managed to score 33 points. He had to endure 10 hours of dental surgery in between games.
Game 2 Miracle
Game 2 was one of those nights of destiny, where adversity becomes the fuel for an extraordinary performance. As IF the physical challenges weren’t enough Game 2 was on the birthday of Chyna Thomas, May 2. If she didn’t pass away, 2 weeks before she’d be 23 years old. This was one of those games that would be talked about long after. John Wall was unstoppable scoring 40 points and 13 assists.
The TD Garden fell to a hush when I.T. slammed his face on the hard court knowing his teeth had been knocked out the previous game. But the custom mouth guard did its job protecting his teeth although he was still experiencing some pain. But I.T. showed how clutch he really is exploding for 19 points in the 4th Q. He added another crucial 10 points in overtime for 53 points total. It was a magical Celtics win 129-119. I.T. dedicated the game to his sister but also shared in the interview that he was better able to deal with her loss in the arena with his friends and teammates than outside, realizing she was gone.
In Game 3 the series would move to Washington’s Verizon Center where they got a boost from their fans. The increasing physicality though would come to a head with Wizards Kelly Oubre’s takedown of Celts Kelly Olynyk after 2 tough screens. Olynyk on the slomos looked like he gave a body check, knocking Oubre down twice. They still appeared to be a legal pick and roll. But by the second time he did it, Oubre had enough and shoved Olynyk to the floor and also hitting the ref in the process. Oubre was immediately ejected from the game but the Wizards still won 116-89.
Wall & Beal show
The team with the home court would win: Game 4 Wizards (121-102), Game 5 Boston (123-101). Game 6 was a show of strength from the Wizards’ backcourt.
Bradley Beal topped all scorers with 33 points. But it was John Wall’s clutch 3 pointer with 3.5 seconds to go that sealed the 92-91 win. After making the last second basket Wall leapt to the scorer’s table screaming, “Not in my house, not in my house!” Thumping his chest as fans went crazy. He finished with 26 points and 8 assists.
Unlikely Heroes in Game 7
Throughout the first half it was an epic battle between John Wall, Bradley Beal and Isaiah Thomas. Each were answering jumpers, treys and lay ups until the 4th quarter when an unlikely hero emerged in Kelly Olynyk. As the defense grew tighter around I.T sometimes triple teaming him, especially on the inside, he had to pass off. He was finding a completely open Olynyk who buried trey after trey. As his confidence grew he would beat Gortat off the dribble for a lay-up. In the end he scored 16 of his 29 points in the 4th quarter as Boston wins the series 115-105.
After the game I.T. was asked about their chances against defending champs Cleveland Cavaliers. He answered, “They didn’t give us a chance in this series. They didn’t give us a chance when we were down 2-0 in the Chicago series. We got the number one seed they didn’t give us a chance. They don’t ever give us a chance and we just keep going. We don’t care what others say.”
Detroit Bad Boys
While I.T. is inevitably compared to the Detroit Pistons great Isiah Thomas, Olynyk also draws comparison to another ‘Bad Boy’- Bill Laimbeer. He too is a 7 foot white guy who has the ability to shoot a 3ptr. Laimbeer was once called the most hated player in the NBA, because of his flopping and knew how to use the rules to his advantage. Although Olynyk has not gotten as tough a reputation, he also had a dangerous play with Kevin Love, both grabbing a loose ball. The Cavs attributed Kevin’s shoulder being dislocated to Olynyk’s rough play.
But just like the Detroit Bad Boys, this Celtic team is gritty, tough and physical with a lot of unlikely heroes. Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, are both great at defense and offense. Avery Bradley’s consistent outside shooting complements I.T.’s game. Al Horford’s scoring can only improve with more experience in the post season. Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier are good young players they can bank on in the coming years. Maybe they’ll win a championship or two just like the Detroit Bad Boys.
Conclusion-Future Looks Green
Whether or not the Boston Celtics win the series against the Lebron led Cavaliers is almost immaterial. Losing the series to the defending champs does not diminish their accomplishments. This has been an incredible year, where they have definitely overachieved. People will look back on this Playoff run and see this is when they made the world take notice.
What we’ve seen from Isaiah is that he has proven he is among the elite. He has helped make the Boston Celtics one of the top four teams in the league. GM Danny Ainge has a lot to smile about too when they drew the top pick in the upcoming draft.