Headlines everywhere are going to read, “Jayson Tatum drops 51 points, leads Celtics past Wizards.” And that’s totally valid. Tatum played a phenomenal game on Sunday afternoon, and the Boston Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak.
But amidst all that excitement, Marcus Smart managed to tug at the heartstrings of fans everywhere in his postgame press conference.
The longtime Celtics point guard missed six straight games in the league’s health and safety protocols before Boston’s bout against the Washington Wizards. After the win, he was asked about how it felt to finally be back out there and help his team get back on track.
Instead of a normal, everyday response, Smart revealed that he spoke to all of his teammates before the game to let them know just how important they were to him.
“Before the game, I pulled everybody aside right before the tip-off. I told everybody I love them. I love all you guys. I’m here and proud and really looking for everybody’s success. I’m glad to be a part of everybody’s success.”
Boston had zero players on the injury report (outside of the recently acquired PJ Dozier and Bol Bol), so everything felt back to normal again. Smart also noted that he spoke to both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in particular.
“I pulled Jayson, Jaylen, told them separately. And I went down along with everybody on the team individually and told them I appreciate them, I’m proud of them. This is what you do, just go out there and do it and keep doing it.”
He went on to detail that he told Tatum to “keep shooting” despite his 20 missed threes in a row. All of this talk is great to hear, but the theories stemming from it make it less of a heartwarming story, and more of a sad one.
Smart is eligible to be traded this Tuesday, January 25. Some have theorized that this act of love is Smart’s way of saying goodbye, that the Celtics have a trade in place to send him elsewhere, and that this would be his final game with the C’s.
Despite this idea, Smart remained committed to the Celtics throughout his postgame presser. He explained what the team’s mentality is moving forward.
“It’s us versus everybody. Nobody really believes in us but us on this team. And that’s how we feel. We hear the noise. We see it. It is what it is. But it’s us versus everybody. That’s the mindset that we have. It’s the mindset we gotta keep. And we gotta let that fuel us.”
It’s no secret that the Celtics have been inconsistent this year. And with that inconsistency comes criticism. Trade rumors, petitions to split up the Jays, and more have pestered the C’s all year.
There have been some ugly losses along the way that have attributed to this chatter. But according to Smart, the real test of a truly great team comes after they get knocked down.
“There’s always going to be noise. You’re always going to get knocked down, but the old saying is, ‘it’s not what you do when you get knocked down, it’s what you do after you get knocked down.’ And for us, we’ve been knocked down a few times this season. But we keep getting up and fighting, and that’s what we’re going to have to continue to do.”
So, while the theory of Smart being traded may not come true, it is sad to think that his final moments in a Boston jersey may be near. Smart’s love and togetherness is exactly what fans should want to hear.