When Marcus Smart was traded from the Celtics to the Grizzlies, it meant he would play for a new team for the first time in his NBA career. While Smart accomplished plenty in Boston, the C’s front office elected to shake up the roster in hopes of a title.
At the time of the trade, Smart was the longest-tenured Celtic on the roster, playing his first nine seasons in Boston. Smart won’t be able to play against the Celtics on Sunday because of a foot injury, but he was still able to see plenty of familiar faces with his old team in town. Smart broke down how he hopes to be remembered as a Celtic and what his legacy will be going forward.
“Guess for me, just the player that I was, the whole life I embodied of being a Celtic and the franchise and the organization and everybody that came before me,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin in an interview. “Laying it out on the line day in and day out like every game was my last.
“Just being part of that upper echelon of guys who wore that uniform and left it all out there and gave everything to it. That’s really it. I’m very thankful for my time. It’s all love. It’s still love. I grew up there. Like I said, it’s still love and it’s always going to be a place in my heart for Boston.”
Smart was picked by the Celtics sixth overall in the 2014 draft as he had been a fixture in Boston ever since then. A big part of his legacy will be how tenacious he was on the defensive end — that effort was rewarded by being named the 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year. Smart became the first guard since Gary Payton in 1996 to win the award.
There was plenty of on-court success, too, even if the Celtics weren’t able to hang Banner No. 18 with Smart on the roster. The Celtics made the East Finals with Smart five times, including the 2022 NBA Finals. While Smart was a polarizing figure in Boston at times, there was no denying his effort level whenever he was on the court.