The Celtics reached the mountaintop and clinched Banner 18, but they did it without a fan favorite.

Boston last offseason made a bold move when it traded Marcus Smart in a three-way deal that landed Kristaps Porzingis. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens effectively replaced Smart when he traded for Jrue Holiday that same summer, but it was clear in the Memphis Grizzlies guard’s return to TD Garden that Green Teamers still appreciated all the 30-year-old gave to the team.

Smart has nothing but love for the Celtics despite how things ended.

“… Shout out to Jaylen (Brown), Jayson (Tatum) and the Boston Celtics on the championship. Congratulations on the championship,” Smart told former NBA guard Theo Pinson on Tidal League’s “Run Your Race.” “They built that. They went through the mud. They didn’t skip any steps. I was with them for nine years of my career, and I seen it. It’s no coincidence that they reached their goal. I’m just so proud of them. I’m proud to be in the trenches with them, to know those guys and be able to work with them every day I had that chance to do.

Story continues below advertisement

“I know everyone is expecting me to be salty and (expletive). There’s no hard feelings from me. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling. It’s definitely tough because I was in the trenches with them. To not be able to finish what you started with those guys is definitely tough, but man, (expletive), my wife will tell you I was screaming for those guys when they won it just as much as anybody else because I have love for those guys, and I know the work that they put in.”

Boston continues to celebrate its NBA title victory, and players like Derrick White, Al Horford and Payton Pritchard will be folk heroes for fans. But Smart’s impact on the Celtics won’t be forgotten no matter what jersey he puts on.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Featured image via Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports Images