Marcus Smart is one of the most polarizing athletes in recent Boston sports history. The reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year is praised for his passion and lambasted for shooting too often.
Now, he’s speaking up for himself.
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In an interview with the Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Smart fires back at his critics. Essentially, his argument boils down to one word: scoreboard.
“I hear the talks about ‘He’s not a true point guard’ and this and that. ‘They need a star point guard.’ We’ve had star point guards, and yet this so-called non-point guard is the only one that’s led them to the Finals,” he said. “I think that right there says enough. I don’t really need to say too much more. I think everybody sees and understands, finally, the person I really am, and what I can do given the opportunity.”
It’s hard to argue with that point, though many will try. Smart didn’t play particularly well in the Finals, averaging 3.2 turnovers per game and shooting just 2-of-14 in the last five minutes when the Celtics were leading or trailing by five points or fewer.
Smart’s aggressiveness is both his best and worst trait. To his fans, Smart is a passionate leader who sets the tone with his tenacious play. To his critics, he has an inflated sense of his on-court importance and worth.
Despite all the noise, Smart says he’s never doubted whether he fits.
“I’m still here,” he said. "I’m still the longest-tenured Celtic. So for me, I take it as a compliment. It means you’re valued pretty high, and if your name is talked about, people want you.”
With a team-friendly four-year, $76 million deal — and playoff track record — there’s little doubt Smart would be a valuable commodity on the trade market.
But the Celtics seemingly think he’s more valuable here. Smart’s critics appear to all be chiming in from the outside.