Marcus Smart on Celtics becoming the ‘hunted’ & his NBA All-Defensive team
The Celtics guard and 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year spoke one-on-one with Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill about Boston’s season, who would make his All-Defensive team and his recent partnership with Tres Generaciones Tequila. To learn more about the “Get Up Tres” campaign, visit www.tresgeneraciones.com.
VINCENT GOODWILL: We're here with Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics. He's promoting the Get Up Tres-- tequila promotion for his new tequila, Tres Generaciones. Before we get to that, Marcus, you guys got off to a really slow start last year. After January, you bounced all the way back and ran to the finals. This year, it was almost flipped. Have you noticed a difference in the way teams approached you this year, as far as you guys being the hunted, knowing that you are two wins away from the finals and teams maybe wanting to get a win off of you as a measuring stick for where they are?
MARCUS SMART: Definitely. That's how it is. Every team wants to wants to see where they are. Every game you know after that, you know you are the hunted. You're no longer the hunter. And there's no such thing as sneak attacks and surprises. You got to be ready for everything.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Now, Marcus, you're the reigning defensive player of the year. That's something that you wanted. That's an award that hasn't gone to many perimeter players. So I'm going to put you on the spot and I'm going to ask you, not counting yourself, give me your all-defensive team.
MARCUS SMART: Not including myself.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Not including yourself.
MARCUS SMART: I might be a little biased, but I got Rob Williams. Oh, man, that's tough. You got Bam Adebayo as well.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Wait, you said he wasn't in your class.
MARCUS SMART: Yeah, at the time. It's a new year. His chance [INAUDIBLE] to have it. Last year, he wasn't. So I was on a different level last year, so-- but even Mikal Bridges-- those guys that was in the running with me and he became really close. But those guys-- just because-- you know what I'm saying-- they weren't in my class, I mean, not some of the best defenders.
So you've got Jrue. Everybody knows Jrue Holiday. Big ups to Jrue. Much respect. Surprised he hasn't won one of these awards yet with DPOY. We all know what he brings to the table. And probably, my fifth-- I'll go with Jaren Jackson, Jr-- Triple J. I'll go with Triple J. My man-- what he's doing-- he's leading the league in blocks and stuff like that. And he's a big anchor for that team.
So there's a lot of guys that can go on that list and go down. I have much respect for every last one of those guys. And they could have been in my situation, and they could have been the DPOY. I'm just blessed enough to even be in the same breath with those guys and the guys who won it before.
VINCENT GOODWILL: It's funny you mention those guys because when you came into the league, I think teams were barely putting up 100 points a night. It was a much different league. Now teams are putting up 115, 120. People always talk about eras. Is it harder for a defensive player to stand out now maybe than it was 15 or 20 years ago or even when you started playing in the league?
MARCUS SMART: By far. What a lot of people don't understand is-- as a defensive player, you already at a disadvantage by stepping on the court and being a defensive player. Every advantage of the game of basketball is hindered towards the offensive player from the physicality, how much contact can be used against, and not everything's protecting the shooter.
And I think it's safe to say nobody wants to see-- I think everybody kind of got tired of seeing those low-scoring games. Basketball is entertainment. And they come out and they want to see a show. They want to see the high-flying dunks. They want to see the long threes. They want to see you know close games in the 100s.
And so, yeah, as a defender you're at a disadvantage, and you've got to find ways to still affect the game on that end because of that. And it's hard. You don't get calls. You don't get the benefit of the doubt. Everything goes towards the offensive player. So just trying to find a way to be able to match that and, really, even out the scales on that end is tough. So being the defensive player is really tough.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Now, Marcus, you're a tequila guy, so tell us about this Get Up Tres campaign that you got going on, man.
MARCUS SMART: Oh, man, yeah, just you know Tres gin is definitely-- surprised me, actually, the way that-- when you drink Tres gin, it makes you feel. You can kind of see the hard work in the bottle, the grit, the determination, the perseverance that they have. It just fits me perfectly, actually. It's just funny-- just Tres gin and what they stand for and everything that I stand for-- my character, everything that I had to persevere through my life-- on the court, off the court, the determination I had to never give up, to never quit-- the grit. It's just me, and I feel like we get along very well.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Hey, Marcus Smart, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate you, my man.