Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Marcus Smart: "I'm a Tough Guy, and Competitor"

It's been a non-stop tour for the Celtics' sixth overall draft pick; Marcus Smart since this past June. Besides playing summer league in Orlando, he was invited to be apart of USA basketball's preparation for the FIBA World Cup in Las Vegas. Although only on the select team, the rookie enjoyed competing against some of the league's elite guards.

A. Sherrod Blakely of recently caught up with the first year guard in Portland, Maine. Smart was hosting a basketball clinic along with fellow NBA rookie Joel Embiid among others for the Seeds of Peace camp, as part of the 11th annual Play for Peace program.

 "I've never been to Maine," said Smart, when he accepted the invitation to be apart of a great cause.  

Over half of the campers are Israeli and Palestinian, and the program gives them a break from their intense daily encounters while learning teamwork and hoop skills from some of the league's young basketball players. Smart didn't have think twice about spending time with these brave children from all over the world.

It was here at the camp where Blakely and Smart talked about a number of topics which included; the upcoming season, playing with Rajon Rondo and his experience with Team USA last month.

Of course everyone wants to know how playing with Rondo or competing with him will work for the rook, but Smart believes they will help each other out, especially since the Celtics' captain is a veteran he can learn a lot from.

"Rajon Rondo is one of the premier guards in this league," says Smart. "He's won a championship, he knows what it takes to get there, he's been through those battles. He has that competitive nature just like I do. Being able to look up to a guy like that is unbelievable." []

Marcus Smart knows it will not be easy once training camp comes around, as he looks to earn minutes the best way he knows how; having patience and hard work.

"Everybody wants to play," says Smart. "You have to wait your time, you can't come in right away and jump in, you have to earn it. That's what I'm looking to do, just go in there and earn the respect of the coaching staff and the veteran guys, so when they put me on the court, I earned it, I wasn't just given it." []

After rave reviews of how well Smart played during the U.S. Men's National Team's training camp in July, he was asked how being one of only two rookies selected to participate has helped his confidence.

"I've been playing with them for three years," Smart explained. "To be invited to play for the select team, that's just an honor in itself. They respected (me) enough to be apart of that. My confidence is at an all time high. I can just take that and carry it over into the season." []

Being able to represent Team USA in the olympics is just one of the many things Smart would like to accomplish one day. It could happen sooner rather than later as players continue to drop out for one reason or another.

In the meantime the Celtics first round draft pick seems to be enjoying the experience of being an NBA rookie especially when it comes to working with great organizations such as Seeds of Peace. Smart clearly can't wait to get to work once September rolls around. He seems very focused, and I think he will have a great season alongside Rondo and the rest of his new teammates.

Joel Pavón

Jerami Grant & Marcus Smart alongside a Seeds of Peace camper

To see the entire interview of Marcus Smart with's A. Sherrod Blakely click here  


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