BOSTON – Every great NBA team has that one guy who is their heart and soul; that one guy who can light a fire within the rest of the team. Some call that player the floor general, some call them the leader. The Boston Celtics call him Marcus Smart.
Smart’s importance to the Celtics comes from more than just what the box scores show. His contributions come from things that aren’t tracked, such as his ability to settle the team down or inspire them to turn it on when needed. Smart, when he’s on the floor, leads by example with his play and leaves 110% effort on the court every night. Even when Smart isn’t on the court, his energy is still infectious and hypes up the guys around him. He’s constantly trying to help each person on that team become better, whether he’s coaching them up or giving them an earful, he does it out of passion and love for his team.
There are a plethora of words that could be used to describe Smart, but the one that stands out above the rest is “tough.” Smart might just be one of the toughest guys in the NBA, and that alone is incredibly valuable. He’s not afraid to shy away from the physical match-ups when driving to the basket for a layup or taking a hit to try and draw a charge.
In Game 3 of the 2021-22 Eastern Conference Finals, Smart landed awkwardly on his ankle, with Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry landing on top of him. Boston fans had nightmarish flashbacks of Gordon Hayward’s grueling injury in October of 2017, but only until Smart came running out of the tunnel to check back in and hit a side-step three pointer. That’s toughness.
For the third time in his career, Smart earned All-NBA Defensive first team honors and also took home the Defensive Player of the Year award. Smart is the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1995-96.
To find a player with the desire to win and the love Smart has for the game of basketball is like finding a needle in a haystack – near impossible. Smart is the definition of bleed green, and puts the Celtics above all else. He’s proven time and time again just how important he is to this team, and why they will never be able to replace him. Rest assured, if the Celtics are going to add another banner to their already impressive collection in the rafters of the TD Garden, Smart will be the crane that lifts it to the ceiling.