Marcus Smart: You hate him for the same reasons you love him. Go ahead, try to find a more lovable jerk! Smart is a tonesetter and a rough-around-the-edges embodiment of Green Teamer ideology. Believe it or not, he is also the most tenured Celtics player on the roster. But as illustrated by a recent “run in” with a hotel room picture frame, Marcus Smart is an excitable wild card. That same gamer’s passion that materializes on the court in the form of invaluable Tommy Points and hustle plays can also get Smart into some trouble behind the scenes. So, where the equation is balanced, does this kid really need to change a single thing?
It was something like the final scene from Raging Bull - an incensed Marcus Smart haphazardly throwing haymakers at a poor hotel room wall - thought-bubble obscenities erupting from his head and steam billowing from his ears. Okay, well maybe this is a tad hyperbolic, but an innocent picture frame was actually harmed in the making of this scene.
Last Wednesday, not 24 hours removed from missing a premature attempt at a game winning buzzer-beater, Celtics guard Marcus Smart channeled some misplaced rage into the pummeling of a picture frame that was affixed to the wall of his Los Angeles hotel room.
Now, the absolutes of this incident have been distorted by pandering excuses and mitigating language. The attack that Smart used is officially being called a “swipe” and the damage that he suffered is officially being referred to as a “laceration on his hand”.
But remember, this same dude, with his same now lacerated hand, put a hole in the wall of the Washington Wizards’ locker room, just a year ago - choosing a funny way to express his vexation, after being benched by Brad Stevens late in a game.
One can presume that, where “swiping” at said hotel room picture frame induced a hand laceration, the glass must have been fractured upon impact, therefore here swiping is more than likely a euphemism for punching.
Breaking news: Marcus Smart has anger issues.
Since it was announced that Smart will be sidelined by this hand laceration for at least two weeks, probably through All-Star Weekend, Celtics fans have heard promises of reformation innumerable, from both Marcus Smart himself via Twitter and the Boston coaching staff.
This incident is now being called a“turning point” in the 23 year old’s career.
Oh, just like when Marcus Smart, as a player for Oklahoma State University, assaulted a Texas Tech fan, seated court-side, back in 2012? Or is it a “turning point” like when he flagrantly punched a pick-setting Matt Bonner in the groin, back in 2015, during his rookie year with the Celtics?
Don’t get it twisted, Marcus Smart is not presently at a right-or-left bifurcation in his career. He is at an intersection that he has arrived at many times before, and upon reckoning this “turning point” he has always continued to move in the same direction, just as he will continue to move in the same direction after this picture frame incident.
Accept it - Marcus Smart will always immutably be Marcus Smart. He is an incorrigible hothead, on and off the court. He is certainly not the type of man who has an on/off switch. As a human and as a basketball player, Marcus Smart’s mana is anger.
So, where his passion is either totally unfettered or it is entirely suppressed, wouldn’t Boston’s hand be forced here? Yes, he represents an incalculable liability, but Smart is ultimately valued for his contributions, both tangible and intangible, on the court. And these contributions derive from that same passion that gets him into trouble.
Danny Ainge and his subordinates knew what they were getting into when they drafted Marcus with the 6th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. His untamable excitability was well documented, coming out of college. And once the substanceless, apologetic rhetoric is discarded as such, it becomes clear that Boston has been and is still contented with dealing with the liability that Smart represents.
Bear in mind, the Celtics made foreseeably impossible trades this past offseason, parting ways with many of the pieces that constituted the homegrown foundation of this team. Fans are to believe that suitors never inquired about the availability of Marcus Smart?
His anger management problem would’ve been corrected, or dismissed, by now if it was a dealbreaker for this organization. Again, Marcus Smart is the most tenured Celtics player - after all of this superfluous controversy, year after year, he still finds himself an integral spot on the Celtics roster, playing significant minutes for Brad Stevens.
In fact, Danny Ainge might just find the kid’s scrappiness to be admirable. After all, Danny was certainly no angel during his playing career!
The complaints are hollow and misguided. When Marcus Smart unleashes a paroxysm of “swiping” on a hotel room picture frame, understand that it derives from the same audacity that makes him the bloody-pawed underdog that Celtics fans have grown to love. He doesn’t have to change a thing. The Celtics, for the time being and if they are to re-sign Smart, simply need to purchase better liability insurance.
Photo: (Brian Babineau/Getty Images)(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)