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Marcus Smart wins Red Auerbach Award

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NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Before tonight’s 110-105 win against the Heat, the Boston Celtics (finally) named Marcus Smart the winner of the 2019 Red Auerbach Award. From the team’s press release, the distinction is “given to the Celtics player or coach who best exemplifies the spirit of what it means to be a Celtic through exceptional performance on and off the court.” For five years, Marcus Smart has been defined by all the sports cliches and platitudes: winning plays, grit, selflessness, and sacrifice. For lack of better words, Smart is the most Celtic Celtic in Celtics history.

Steve Pagliuca may have said it best last night, “I’m positive Red would have loved Marcus for his relentless energy on the court, and his selfless support of charities off the court.”

After scoring 16 points against Miami including 4-for-8 from behind the arc, Smart recognized the hard fought win as a signal that the team, frankly, has started to look like one built in his image.

“We got to be able to play through adversity. Everybody can play good when things are going their way, but what defines your character as a player and the person you are is when things are going not your way, going against you,” Smart said. “When that adversity hits, we got to be able to respond like we did tonight.”

Forget the improved outside shooting or even the starting nod this season. What Smart has been this season for the Celtics is the anchor as the team weathered wave after wave of internal strife, criticism from the media, and inconsistent play on the court.

When asked about finally winning the Auerbach Award, Smart said, “it feels good. I’ve been here the longest. I’m the longest tenured Celtic, so to get that award, especially because it’s named after a guy who changed this city and changed this team and really gave it a face, it’s something that hit home.”

For Smart, “home” is Boston. After signing his 4-year, $52M deal this summer, he said, “Boston loves me, I love Boston.” In an era of unprecedented player control and movement, Smart is the one guy you could see spending his entire career in one city. Maybe they never raise #36 to the rafters, but all the knee burns and dents in the parquet from Smart’s “winning plays” will live on forever.