Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Marcus Smart says he's proud of Celtics winning an NBA championship

It's been over a week since the Celtics won their 18th championship by beating the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

If you've been an avid fan of this team, there might be some mixed feelings over the fact that Marcus Smart wasn't on the roster to celebrate such a long-awaited moment in Boston sports history.

Still, Smart watched as his former teammates finally accomplished what he tried to do for the first nine years of his career. Speaking on a recent episode of the "Run Your Race" Podcast, Smart talked about how it felt to watch Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum get drafted in back-to-back years -- which eventually led to the 30-year-old to discuss the Celtics winning it all in 2024.
"It was great to see those two guys come in the way they came in and just dominate,” said Smart of Brown and Tatum's initial impact in Boston. "When they stepped on the floor, you were like, 'We've got to watch out.'" 
"It was no stopping them from the start. We [saw] that and we noticed it, and that's why they're where they're at now," said Smart. "Shout out to Jaylen and Jayson and the Boston Celtics. Congratulations on the championship."
Smart was the sixth overall pick for the Celtics in the 2014 NBA Draft and while he helped lead Boston to the playoffs in every single season he was in green -- which included five trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA Finals berth in 2022 -- president of basketball operations Brad Stevens made the tough decision to trade the fan favorite last summer for veteran big man Kristaps Porzingis.

Despite the end result, Smart says his ex-teammates earned their ultimate reward and couldn't be happier for them.
"They built that. They went through the mud. They didn't skip any steps," Smart said of the Celtics. "I was there with them for nine years of my career, and I [saw] it. It's no coincidence that they reached their goal now. I'm just so proud of them. I was proud to be in the trenches with them, to know those guys, and to be able to go to work with them every day that I had a chance to do."
"I know everybody's expecting me to be up here and be salty and shit. There are no hard feelings from me," Smart added.
This past February Smart made his return to the TD Garden, where he called home for nine seasons, when the Celtics hosted the Memphis Grizzlies. While that night was a heart-felt one for Smart, he couldn't help but feel a range of emotions when the Celtics hoisted the Larry O'Brien trophy last week.
"It's definitely a bittersweet feeling. It's definitely tough, because like I said, I was in the trenches with them, so to not be able to finish what you started with those guys is definitely tough," Smart explained. "But my wife will tell you I was screaming for those guys when they won it just as much as anybody else because, like I said, I have love for those guys. I know the work they put in. I've been through it."
As for the deal that sent him to Memphis, Smart just reiterated what has been said before since the trade that he wishes the Celtics were a little more transparent. But the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year made sure to emphasize that he has "no hard feelings," when it comes to the organization that took a chance on him a decade ago.  

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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