Leave your puns at the door, because the 2014 NBA Draft was more about adding toughness to the Boston Celtics than it was going young. And yes, it was a smart decision, because Marcus Smart and James Young are two players who know how to deal with adversity and come out a stronger person.
There's plenty of time to assess the roster and how these players will fit into Brad Stevens' system - and they do quite well, in fact - but there's one thing that's obvious: Smart and Young are two tough suckers both in their style of play and off-the-court demeanor.
For anyone looking to get an idea of Marcus Smart's high character, I recommend this read: http://t.co/XhifIXhrqD— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 27, 2014
The story I tweeted out last night in the embedded image above is truly one of the greatest stories I have ever read on a player. Smart's history is mind numbing, and it's so clear that he's been through so much, which has shaped his character into what it is today.
It's worth just clicking and reading right now, because it will change your day and make you think about life and all that you love. But I know one thing's for sure: You will fall in love with Marcus Smart.
Smart went from 'dead or in jail' to Oklahoma State's selfless general
Rage burned inside him after seeing cancer overtake one older brother and cocaine nearly destroy another. Anger boiled while confronting a neighborhood south of Dallas he called a war zone amid duplexes. He desperately sought to inflict others with the pain that incessantly gnawed at his 12-year-old heart.
And some key quotes from Smart himself:
- "It feels like if you have a broken arm and you just want to scream," Marcus says of his anger. "The worst pain you can ever think of, that's exactly how angry I felt. That's how bad the anger was and exactly how bad I wanted to release it. Got to release it. It's like a boiling pot. I didn't know how to express it beyond fighting."
- "People always ask me, 'How are you so humble?' When you go through things like I have, there's only one way for you to be. Life is not a game. This is a cold world out there - the world is very cold - and if you don't learn things and understand things, this world can eat you up."
- "I want them to look at Marcus Smart and say he's the nicest guy I have ever met. I want to hear good things. I don't want to hear any negative things about me. It makes me look bad. It makes me feel bad. It makes my family look bad. I'm a reflection of my mom, my brothers and everyone in my family. How I carry myself is a reflection of how they raised me. I've learned that."
If that doesn't shake you to the core, I don't know what will. Tears built up in my eyes when I first read the story a few weeks ago, and as I make this post today, I do again. For me, Marcus Smart became one of the players that I will root for the most from this year's draft class because of his mental toughness and ability to fight through adversity.
People often forget that these prospects are human beings. They are just like you and me; they have people they love...they flat out have a story, like all of us do. But Smart's story is a special one...he grew up tough.
He takes that mindset onto the court with a relentless style of play. He drives to the rim like a raging ball of anger, who will let nothing in his way stop him, just as his love for his family drove him to succeed off the court. He plays intense defense as hard as he can on every possession, preventing the enemy from winning, just like his family wanted him to do as he grew up surrounded by drugs and violence.
And Smart did win...yet he has come out so humble; that's the most impressive thing to me. Building a network of friends, I like to surround myself with people who are humble and people who will always "do you." And I believe the Boston Celtics are doing something similar as they begin their first full offseason with Brad Stevens as head coach.
This Celtics roster is tough. Marcus Smart's story has been obviously outlined above, but James Young also brings a "clutch factor" in that he will never back down from the "moment" off the court; as we saw during his incredible run in the National Championship.
Even a handful of the possible "core" players on the roster share that same mindset: Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, and Jared Sullinger. All of them with their style of play and off-the-court journeys bring an element of tough, raw, and almost animalistic behavior to the court.
Some of these players may be traded at some point, but that's a conversation that should be saved for a later date. The picks of Marcus Smart and James Young aren't about going with a full youth movement; it's about getting tough.