It finally happened. After twenty-six seasons, another guard has won Defensive Player of the Year and they were both at the Celtics’ practice facility to celebrate it.
On Monday afternoon after a thrilling Game 1 win over the Nets, Marcus Smart was awarded the 2021-2022 Kia Defensive Player of the Year. After spearheading the best defense in the NBA, he became the first non-big man to win the award since former Celtic Gary Payton.
It was only fitting that The Glove was there to hand him the award in front of his teammates and Celtics family.
After the impromptu ceremony, Smart spoke to the media about the importance of the honor to him.
"She's still here in spirit looking down on me... Each and every day I'm thinking of her and my brother and I come into work and leave it all out on the line"— NBA (@NBA) April 19, 2022
Marcus Smart speaks on honoring the legacy of his loved ones by putting in the work every day. pic.twitter.com/xrsdmqmFwW
“Definitely, a mentality. It’s that swagger. You gotta go in and have that type of demeanor with yourself,” Marcus Smart told The NBA on TNT on what it takes to be the Defensive Player of the Year. “You gotta believe in yourself when nobody else is. You gotta go out there and make it happen. No matter what, always continue to have that chip on your shoulder and that’s what I continue to do.”
In Game 1 against Brooklyn, Smart held Kyrie Irving to 5 points on 1-for-3 shooting. Per Second Spectrum tracking data, Irving would score his other 34 points on everybody else, making 11-of-17 shots.