For Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics, Thursday night proved to be about much more than just defeating the Golden State Warriors.
It marked the first game back at TD Garden since the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant last Sunday. The Celtics had been a part of a couple of tributes on the road already, but the team made sure to honor Bryant in its own special way at home.
After the 119-104 victory, Marcus Smart couldn?t help reflecting on the daunting task of defending the five-time NBA champ the last time the two teams competed.
?For me, it was ‘This is Kobe,’ like the fact that I?m on the court with him, to watch him up this close and even have an opportunity to guard him for a stint, I?m not going to lie, I was shaking in my shoes,? Smart said with a smile. ?You know, I?m a good defender, but you can?t guard that guy.
?It was incredible and I mean, it?s sad. And I know myself and the NBA family is really mourning this and it hurts. We all grew up watching Kobe and he like lit the pathway for us to believe in ourselves and to go out there and understand that we have a blessing and a gift and a craft that we need to hone it and do everything we can to take full advantage of it. So for us, Kobe was everything.?
Marcus Smart reflects on the last game that he faced Kobe pic.twitter.com/yT6d3Zcg72
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 31, 2020
Jayson Tatum echoed that message about Bryant?s impact when the 21-year-old forward found out he had been named an NBA All-Star reserve. It wasn?t so much about the accolade as it was his personal connection to Bryant, an 18-time All-Star.