Here’s one more reason why Marcus Smart is one of the best defenders in the NBA.
The Boston Celtics guard swatted away criticism of teammate Kyrie Irving’s leadership abilities Thursday during an end-of-season media session. Irving has come under intense criticism after the Celtics followed an underwhelming regular season with a second-round exit from the NBA playoffs. Some believe Irving negatively impacted Boston’s chemistry in his second season with the team, but Smart dismisses those claims forcefully.
“Bulls–t,” Smart said. “That’s bulls–t. Not one of us on this team knows what Kyrie’s been through. Probably a few amount of people in this world knows what Kyrie goes through. It was hard for him as well.”
The Celtics acquired Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 in trade that sent Isaiah Thomas, who was popular among Celtics players and fans, and other players the other way. Smart recalled the awkward social conditions of Irving’s arrival during his defense of his backcourt mate.
“He was forced into a situation where it was business over the friendships, where he had to come into a situation knowing that this is a group of guys that had something going before I come here. ‘How will I fit in?’ He didn’t want to disrupt that. And that says a lot. This is Kyrie Irving we’re talking about. And he’s talking about coming in and disrupting us.”
There’s no doubt the Celtics underachieved this season and took a backward step from where they went in 2017-18. While Irving is one of many top Celtics figures, branding him a chemistry-killer or cancer simply is going too far for Smart.