About 20 minutes earlier than opening tip on Sunday, Marcus Smart walked out to the court docket at TD Garden earlier than a Celtics sport, for the primary time, from the visiting tunnel. The roar from the gang was deafening as Smart waved again.
It was nothing in comparison with the scene that unfolded a half-hour later.
During the primary timeout of the primary quarter, your entire area stood for a long-awaited, deserving tribute. A two-minute video performed on the video board, stuffed with the enduring highlights that made Smart one of the crucial beloved gamers in latest Celtics historical past.
On the Celtics bench, Jayson Tatum urged the gang to get louder because the tribute video ended and panned to Smart on the display screen. He was visibly moved. He pumped his chest a number of instances. He blew a kiss to the gang, after which raised each of his arms within the air to salute the gang of the house he labored for 9 years. The crowd responded with chants of, “We love Marcus!”
“I love you guys and forever you guys will always be in my heart, and Boston will always be here,” Smart mentioned earlier than the second. “Never forgotten.”
Smart didn’t play on Sunday as he continues to recuperate from a proper ring finger harm he suffered final month, however his return was in any other case completely captured because the Celtics honored his 9 seasons as a franchise icon who turned a staple in Boston.
Smart’s play as top-of-the-line defenders and hardest opponents within the league who was a cornerstone for the Celtics’ ascent again to the highest of the Eastern Conference was encapsulated. His group work was honored, too, as he was acknowledged because the “Hero Among Us” after 9 years that included being a relentless customer to Boston Children’s Hospital for teenagers battling most cancers, and the creation of his YounGameChanger Foundation to help inner-city student-athletes.
“I pride myself on being more than just a basketball player and I think being here in the city of Boston has really opened that field for me to really show who I am as a person,” Smart mentioned.
Smart’s exit in June was stunning. Just earlier than midnight on June 21, he was all of a sudden traded to the Grizzlies in a three-team deal. Smart had no concept till the following morning when he wakened, one thing that bothered him, particularly since, he mentioned, the group instructed him the week prior that he wouldn’t be traded.
It took a while for Smart to recover from that. He mentioned a wild 12 months that included getting married and different private issues helped.
“It definitely hurt but it didn’t hurt as hard as I thought it would because of that,” Smart mentioned. “I perceive enterprise and I perceive this enterprise, and I inform individuals to at the present time if it was me I might make the identical enterprise determination as effectively. All I ask was that they may have given me a heads up or only a easy, ‘Hey, being here nine years, we just want to let you know this is what’s occurring.’ Perfect.
“At the end of the day, I’m a businessman as well. So that’s what it was, (where) the hurt really came from. But like I said, I was able to keep my mind off of it. There’s no ill will towards the organization, towards my teammates, towards the coaching staff. I love everybody. And I’m thankful to have had an opportunity to play with those guys.”
Smart took a while after his pregame press convention to go to the Celtics locker room, the place he noticed a number of of his outdated teammates. The guard takes satisfaction in how the Celtics have continued to excel with out him. Though he’s disenchanted in not being a part of a championship run with them, he’s pleased to see them proceed to flourish from afar, particularly Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“It’s amazing to see,” Smart mentioned, “For me, to see my brothers, throughout in each sport, doing what they like to do and doing exceptionally effectively at a really elite degree, however particularly this group of fellows. It’s a particular relationship I’ve constructed with these guys and I’ve seen these guys take loads of criticism through the years. I’m simply pleased for them to lastly clicking and getting it collectively as a result of I had the pleasure of seeing it daily. You guys had a pleasure of solely seeing it for a sure period of time and that’s on the basketball court docket. I’m very ecstatic for these guys and I’m pleased for them. …
“it would be hard to try to wrap your head around it,” Smart mentioned of not persevering with the journey with them. “But at the end of the day, like I said, it doesn’t stop how I feel about good guys. And just as much as I think I deserve it, they deserve it as much as well.”
Smart, by means of the entire feelings of the day and evening, maintained his love for Boston and the Celtics, one thing that can by no means change irrespective of the place he goes in his profession.
“Boston is definitely a second home for me,” Smart mentioned. “I might go on all day about every part I’ve skilled right here, however simply the best way Boston took me in. We all know enjoying on this metropolis isn’t the best and there’s loads of instances they tell us about it, particularly me. But every part is all the time nice right here and I converse for everyone – the opposing group and guys which have performed right here – that there’s nothing like enjoying on this place and this metropolis with these followers.
“They allowed me to grow. They allowed me to see a different side of myself, and they watched me become a man. So my favorite things will always be here, but they definitely have shaped my life in more ways than one.”
Brown didn’t play Sunday attributable to decrease again tightness, however the harm isn’t thought-about severe. Luke Kornet returned from a three-game absence. … The Grizzlies had simply eight obtainable gamers for Sunday’s sport attributable to 13 gamers being dominated out, together with Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr.