For the first time since trading Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team deal blockbuster deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Boston, the Celtics will face off against Smart’s new team.
Though Smart will be inactive for Sunday night’s game due to a foot sprain that will sideline him for three to five weeks, it will be a nice moment for Smart to reconnect with former teammates with whom he still has a strong connection.
Prior to Sunday night’s game, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who had shared their entire NBA careers with Smart, took a moment to reminisce about the time they spent alongside him.
“I couldn’t stand Marcus at first,” Brown said with a smile. “And that just goes to show, and I love him now, so it be like that sometimes… Me and Marcus, we didn’t start off great. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Marcus when I first got to Boston.”
When asked why, Brown explained, “Plethora of reasons, you name it. But over time, I realized that me and Marcus have similar spirits, and if I was going to war with anybody, Marcus would be one of my first phone calls.”
Through the highs and lows during Smart’s tenure with the Celtics, the team accomplished some incredible success, making the playoffs in each of the nine seasons Smart spent with the Celtics, appearing in five Eastern Conference Finals, and reaching the NBA Finals 2022, a memory Tatum will never forget.
“My favorite [memory] is probably when we won the Conference Finals, Game 7, on the road,” Tatum said. “[It] just kinda felt like we all grew up together and got over that hump, getting to the Finals, so that was always a special memory.”
Though Smart and the Celtics never achieved their ultimate goal of raising a Championship Banner, the 29-year-old left a lasting impact on the Celtics franchise and the city of Boston during his time here.
“He was the most loved and popular guy that we had on the team,” Tatum said. “Especially in Boston, people loved his attitude, how hard he played, his green hair, his personality, and just what he brought to the team. It didn’t always show up on the stat sheet, but he was a huge reason of the success that we had and he was important to the growth of this organization and everybody on the team.”
“He meant a lot,” Brown stated. “The franchise should be pleased and grateful that somebody [Smart] put they heart on their sleeve and went out there every night, and dove on the floor, jumped into the stands, carried that same passion that the city of Boston kinda moves with too… Marcus Smart was a lot of people’s spirit animal in the city of Boston. Tough, tell you how they feel, passionate, don’t care about the results, whatever."
While Smart won't play on Sunday night, the reunion will have a sequel on February 4 when the Grizzlies visit TD Garden for another matchup against the Celtics - What will surely be an emotional day.