Marcus Smart ended up receiving a $35,000 fine on March 5th of this year after a heated verbal confrontation with game officials after Boston’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. He doesn’t care. We can expect him to do the same in the future. It is part of who he is. The current Celtics squad is certainly a legitimate title contender, but they lack the internal fire – except for Marcus Smart.
Red Auerbach had it. Danny Ainge had it. Larry Bird certainly had it, and so does Marcus Smart – that internal fire that drives the emotions and physical play. Red would punch people out and then accept the consequences. Danny was all-emotion on the court and had his share of physical clashes. Ditto for Bird. Marcus has a tough mindset that never seems to waver (Per TheAthletic’s Jay King):
The mindset has turned Smart into one of the NBA’s most respected tough guys. This year’s NBA.com GM survey ranked him tied for second in that category behind only Thunder big man Steven Adams. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that what makes Smart special is that he hurls the same fire every time he steps on the court. “It’s in his DNA,” Ainge said. “That’s what’s unique.” If there’s a loose ball during a Celtics game, there’s a good chance Marcus Smart is chasing it. The rest of the Celtics like to say they’ll bet on Smart any time there’s a loose ball. In a franchise where Brad Stevens regularly stresses the importance of living up to the “Celtic way,” teammates believe Smart does that as well as anyone.
The present crop of Guys in Green are a finesse group, often lacking physicality. Even the coach, Brad Stevens, isn’t the most animated guy on the sidelines. It’s just not in him. Not so for Smart. Marcus was not happy with the loss to the Nets – the way it happened – or picking up the sixth foul that forced him out of the game. And he made the officials aware of his discontentment. Auerbach used to purposely get tossed out of games to fire up his team. Smart’s sixth foul was not intentional, and he paid for his outburst – but in the end, someone has to do it
Where would this team be without Marcus? My hope is that another Celtics player steps forward and displays that physical and emotional fire we see constantly in Smart. The only problem with Marcus’ incendiary nature is that the flame sometimes gets out of control. In two past episodes, Jayson Tatum has had the unenviable task of tackling Marcus before a verbal outburst turned physical. We can expect a replay sometime in the future.