Saturday, March 18, 2023

Why Marcus Smart calls Celtics 'special group' due to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown

The Celtics are on a mission this season to make it back to the NBA Finals and win banner 18. That's been the goal since Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been teammates over the past six years now.

Throughout their time time together in Boston, the All-Star duo has made it to the three Eastern Conference Finals, before finally breaking through to the championship round last June -- coming up short to the Golden State Warriors dynasty.

Still, the one thing has been the most consistent since they have been anointed the faces of the storied Celtics franchise and that's been their teammate Marcus Smart, who not only is the longest tenured on the current roster in his ninth season, but has had a front-row seat to witness the growth and development of both Brown and Tatum as they've become two of the league's best players.

All three (Smart, Brown and Tatum) were interviewed by a pair of Hall-of-Fame and Celtics legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the latest edition of Showtime Basketball's KG Certified (which was filmed back on Jan. 31) released this week.

With all five sitting together on the court of the team's practice facility at the Auerbach Center, Garrett asked Smart if he feels like the 2022-23 Celtics are a "special group."
"By far," Smart answered. "I've been here nine years, so I've seen people come in and leave and then come back, or not come back and then say, 'I wish I would've come back' because of how special the team is. We've got a lot of great players. These two here, top of the charts for us, right? But at the same time, with them two being at the top, their egos don't surpass that. It's not bigger than the team. They've got all the individual accolades coming their way and they still find ways to make sure that everybody on the team is getting better. And they're aware that without us, they wouldn't be who they are."
The Celtics are 49-22 following their most recent 126-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, and are among the favorites to win it all this season. Despite some recent struggles, the goal remains the same and Smart credits Brown and Tatum as not just elite talents but also being leaders by example off the court and checking their egos at the door.
"When you've got guys in their position that does that, it kind of forces everybody to follow, and that makes a team special," Smart said. "When they're able to be coachable, when they're able to take criticism, when they're able to understand and look themselves in the mirror and go, 'You know what? I fucked up.' It's kind of hard for the 15th, the 13th, the 10th man to say, 'I ain't do nothing wrong.' Bullshit. You've got the top two motherfuckers admitting that they did something wrong.

"So if they're not perfect, nobody's going to be perfect. That's what makes this team, because we know we can look to those two and we can lean on their shoulders in times of need but at the same time when times are high. We understand that they're going to show love to everybody."
By the end of the conversation it was clear to Pierce and Garnett the reason why this Celtics team is considered to be a championship contender and has to do with the trio of Smart, Brown and Tatum helping re-build that culture Boston sports fans know all too well about. The only thing that is left to do is finish the job and win that elusive first title since the previous 'Big-Three' did back in 2008.  

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Showtime Basketball

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