On more than one occasion Marcus Smart has been referred to the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics. From his pregame warm-ups to post game interviews, there's never a moment he isn't exuding Celtics culture. Kendrick Perkins recently noted, "Marcus Smart's heart, tenacity and pride is Celtics to the core. From Brad, to Russell, to the Big 3 era, He would've been able to fit in with any Celtic Team in history. He is 100% what the pedigree of the Boston Celtics represents!" Whether he's diving for the ball, anticipating the moves of his opponents or shooting from the arc, one thing is certain; Marcus leaves it all on the court. In addition to that, you can hear his heart in every interview he has. He loves the game of basketball, his teammates and the organization that took him in as a rookie six years ago. He has earned the respect of his peers and coach and his grit, genius and goals make him a fan favorite.
Whether you've watched one game or all 388 games Marcus has played, you have to notice he spends as much time on the ground diving for loose balls as he does pestering his opponents. If there's a play to be made Marcus will find it, even if it means lying on the floor and making a long pass to his teammate. His menacing defense has created more turnovers than your favorite bakery. He disregards his own well being if it means a win at the end of the night. His presence can cause the most seasoned vet loose his focus, something we'll all look forward to as James Harden comes to town this Saturday. His never give up attitude has made him a legit 3 point shooter for the Celtics. He recently set the record for most 3's in a game. Two years ago no one would have thought it possible.
There is no other word to describe Smart's play-making ability. He has perfected the behind the back pass that allows Hayward, Walker, Tatum and Brown to shoot open shots from their sweet spots. With every possession he is looking ahead to the next play. Each touch of the ball he already knows who's open, or if he should make the shot. He can anticipate the moves of his opponents which often results in a steal or turnover. He has earned the trust of his teammates and the respect of his coach. Brad Stevens has argued many times that Marcus should be named Defensive Player of the Year. While his basketball genius doesn't often show up in the stat sheet, Boston fans and head office know the value he brings.
As with any team in the NBA, the next championship is the ultimate goal. For Boston, and Marcus in particular, it's not just winning the next Banner, but having a team that wins it together. Marcus was often quoted last year about the importance of team chemistry, and it was disappointing when it was apparent chemistry was completely missing from the locker room. This year Smart set out from the very beginning to make unity the number one goal. He knew that if the team played together, they would win together. It's so encouraging to hear the heart of the team say, "this year is just a different feeling. We really got that sense of 'we really, really, really, really have a chance this year." This attitude and sense of hope couldn't be possible without Marcus Smart in the locker room or on the court.
Fans are grateful that Danny Ainge didn't let Marcus go when he became a RFA, and that he's made it clear Smart isn't on the trading block any time soon. If you remove the heart of anything it can't survive. The Celtics need Marcus if they are going to accomplish their ultimate goal. He is the classic underdog, the ultimate competitor and no one #bleedsgreen deeper than him.
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