Nude Isaiah Thomas on cover of ESPN magazine’s ‘Body Issue’

Tacoma native and Boston Celtic Isaiah Thomas is on the cover of ESPN magazine for its Body Issue, out in July 2017.
Tacoma native and Boston Celtic Isaiah Thomas is on the cover of ESPN magazine for its Body Issue, out in July 2017. PHOTO: ESPN

What’s more pressure: The NBA playoffs or posing nude for a photo shoot?

Isaiah Thomas now knows.

“The naked photo shoot is a hundred times more pressure than game seven in the playoffs,” he said.

Tacoma knows him as a hometown hero, NBA star and local philanthropist.

In July the rest of the nation will get to know more of Thomas than ever.

He’s the featured athlete for the magazine’s annual “Body Issue” where ESPN displays the world’s top athletes fully nude, private areas tastefully covered or cropped out.

ESPN won’t release inside photos until July 5, but the cover image shows Thomas from the back and a few inches of butt crack.

The Boston Celtics point guard poses with a basketball perched on his shoulder on the cover, shot by legendary sports photographer Walter Iooss.

There’s plenty of hometown love on Thomas’ body.

Thomas’ shoulder blades have “Tac-Town” tattooed above an outline of Washington State containing “253” — Pierce County’s area code — and the words “Born & Raised” below.

ESPN produced a video about Thomas with an interview and clips of the photo shoot.

The story in ESPN is mostly in Thomas’ own words.

He talked about being shorter than other players and how, even now, he’s underestimated.

“If I were 6-3 or 6-5, I’d be the best player in the world,” Thomas said. “No doubt about it. And that's not just me thinking that; I mean, the world would think that.”

Thomas, 28, gives back on a regular basis including an $80,000 donation for a refurbished gym at the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club in February and the Zeke-End basketball tournament this weekend at Tacoma Community College.

In an interview from the college this weekend Thomas told ESPN anchors that the photo shoot was “awkward” but he was glad he did it.

“When they asked me to be on board, I didn’t ask questions,” he said.

Thomas was given a robe during breaks on the shoot.

“So you’re just not chilling with no clothes on,” he explained.

The basketball clearly came in handy during the nude photo shoot.

“I didn’t get no say in the props,” he said. Though he did decline a few ideas, he said.

Everyone, from teammates to family members, are ribbing him over it, he said.

“Everybody’s got some type of joke about it,” Thomas said.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor