Celtics rookies Marcus Smart and James Young were at the team's practice facility in Waltham early Monday afternoon to be introduced as the newest members of the historic franchise. Joined by team president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, head coach, Brad Stevens, managing partner, Steve Pagliuca, and team president, Rich Gotham, the two were presented with their jerseys and fielded their first questions as professional basketball players.
Pagliuca got things started by speaking to the rookies' competitiveness and stated that both Smart and Young are instigators, not retaliators, a quality that the late Red Auerbach would have loved.
"I grew up being that type of person, willing to do whatever it takes," said Smart. "I want to shut down my opponent, or at least try. That's the person I am and I take a lot of pride in that."
Added Young, "Like Marcus said, I just really try to stop my opponent and do whatever it is I need to do to get it done."
Ainge later stated that it was exactly that competitiveness, among other things, that piqued his interest during pre-draft evaluations.
"I think there were two things that stood out to me and one was Marcus' competitiveness. I love how he cracks back on bigs and fights with bigs. I love how he rebounds and I think he has a great deal of potential of improving as a great pick and roll player offensively. I think his shooting wasn't as good as he would have liked it or what it needs to be to be the NBA player we think he can become but I know he'll put in the time and his mechanics are good so I have a great deal of confidence in Marcus' work ethic to make that happen.
"And with James being the young player that he is, I watched a lot of Kentucky this year due to the five dynamic freshman they had on their team and had a lot of expectations going into the year. Many of those games he was the best player on the court for his team, including the national championship game on the big stage. But, he too has versatility. I don't think he shot the ball as well as he's capable of, although during the NCAA Tournament he shot the ball really well. He has a lot of potential, a lot of defensive and offensive potential. He's a well-rounded player. Both of these guys I think are capable of, in time, through the hard work to be winning players on both ends of the court."
Both Ainge and Stevens went on to say that they believe Smart and Young will be able to guard multiple positions on the perimeter, and possibly against some smaller power forwards. However, Stevens recognized something that goes beyond their physical talents, something having more to do with their character: these guys are pros.
"Listening to these guys talk, and it also stood out to me during the evaluation process, they get it," Stevens said. "They get that there's a lot of work that goes into it. And it's about the name on front of the jersey and all those things."
Young will wear number 13 for the green and white, while Smart chose to don number 36 for all the right reasons.
Marcus Smart and James Young meet the press in Waltham for the first time as Boston Celtics. pic.twitter.com/f2SZpBENH7— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 30, 2014
"My brother wore number 3 in high school," Smart explained. "He passed away with cancer so all of my brothers, including me, wore number 3 in high school. But once I got to Oklahoma State, the number 3 was retired because of a plane crash that happened to the basketball team. They asked me, 'What's another number?' I got to thinking, my brother passed away at the age of 33, so why not get the jersey number 33? But here everybody knows that number 3 and 33 are both gone and retired, respectively. So I was just thinking again, 3 is the original number so you have the 3 in there and the 6 is the number I was drafted at, with pick 6. You get the 3 and the 6 and put them together and you get 36."