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Must C’s: former Celtic Defensive Player of the Year campaigns for Marcus Smart

The Glove loves and trusts.

New Jersey Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

As CelticsBlog’s Adam Taylor mentioned earlier this week, Marcus Smart’s campaign as Defensive Player of the Year harkens back to a former Celtic who also put the hard work and defense first ahead of flashy offensive numbers:

There’s always a torchbearer though, someone who paves the way for others to follow in their footsteps. A quick look around the league and you can see the remnants of Gary Payton’s game. Guys like Smart, Patrick Beverley, Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and even Kyle Lowry all walk in The Glove’s footsteps to some degree. Sure, each of those guards has developed their own style and has their own brand of offense, but they heeded the lessons Payton displayed on the court.

And now Smart is taking up that mantle. By vying for the DPOY award, the veteran guard is showing the world that grit, heart, and hustle can make you into a star. That athleticism, length, and an incredibly scoring touch is just one of many routes toward making it in the NBA. It might be the best route, and the most common and frankly lucrative, but not everybody is blessed with those gifts, and not everybody has the hand-eye coordination to be a force of nature beyond the three-point line.

Earlier today on Sirius XM NBA radio, The Glove told Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson that Smart has changed the game. “If you change your offense because of one guy, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Payton said of Smart’s influence this season.

“(Smart) just plays hard. He plays with a lot of dog in him. And I think that yes, he should win (Defensive Player of the Year). Why not? He has changed a lot of things in a lot of the game,” GP said. “I think the reason we don’t get looked at as a guard is because we don’t do the things that I did. Eddie will tell you, at ninety-four feet, if I can turn a guard three or four times before he gets to half court and there’s only ten seconds left on the shot clock, I’ve done what I’m supposed to do. They’re getting into an offense too late and they’re going to rush. Marcus Smart does the same thing.”