This afternoon, hours after beating Australia in an exhibition match, Team USA announced it's team captains for their FIBA World Cup run. Of the thirteen players on the roster, the three chosen to be captains were Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell.
The selection of Kemba Walker is awesome for us Celtics fans to see, but it's not like it comes as any sort of surprise. With all the other "A-list" players dropping out over the last month or two, Kemba has become the clear best player on the team and has even jokingly been dubbed "Captain America" by some in the media.
What was surprising to see, however, was the selection of Marcus Smart as a team captain, and boy did the news come at the perfect time. If you haven't been keeping up with Celtics talk throughout the dog days of summer, you may not know why this is so significant. With the season, draft, and free agency all having passed and nothing else to talk about, a conversation started in the last week or so about the idea of Marcus Smart as a team captain for the Celtics. The Celtics haven't had a team captain since Paul Pierce, and after a season ruined by poor chemistry and a toxic environment, it feels like having one could potentially help the team avoid those issues in the future.
A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston started this conversation last week with an article outlining his argument for why he believes Marcus Smart should be the Celtics' captain, and I think it's fair to say that something like 99% of Celtics fans agreed with his take wholeheartedly. Then there was Jeff Clark. At least, I think that was the guy's name but I'm not certain and can't be bothered to go back and look. You're probably wondering "who is Jeff Clark?" Don't worry, you're not alone. Many of us had to ask the same question when an article arguing AGAINST Marcus Smart as the Celtics' captain started making the rounds on Twitter early this week. Of course, when Jeff wrote the article he likely did so with that exact intention: spit out an unpopular opinion that he knew would get people fired up, and draw attention to his site for once.
Our very own founder Ev Singleton came back at Jeff's article with his own fiery rebuttal, speaking for most of us when he said "You're not a Celtics fan if you believe Marcus Smart isn't captain material." The two then engaged in a bit of a back and forth on Twitter where Jeff took some personal shots, Ev handled them with class as expected, and the whole thing ended with Jeff allegedly DM'ing Ev to essentially wave the white flag and make sure there were no hard feelings. Ev got into all of the details about that interaction on his recently launched show "EvUnleashed" which I highly recommend checking out.
But anyways, back to the subject at hand.
Here we are just two days removed from discussing whether or not Marcus Smart is worthy of being the Celtics' captain, and he's being named as a captain of Team USA's World Cup roster. I'm not sure exactly who has a say in naming the team captains, but I would have to think that Gregg Popovich and Jerry Colangelo - two of the most highly regarded and respected members in the NBA today and throughout the league's history - have the biggest say in those decisions. Correct me if i'm wrong but if those two consider Smart to be "captain worthy" for a team that is representing our country in the World Cup, he is certainly qualified to be a captain on the Boston Celtics.
When Team USA camp started, it seemed like a toss up of whether or not Smart would even make the final cuts. When he suffered an injury that has held him out of practices and exhibitions for the last several weeks, his chances of making the team seemed even slimmer. Yet here we are on the same day of a game he couldn't even play in, watching him not only make the final cut, but get named as one of three team captains. If that doesn't speak to how highly regarded Marcus is for his leadership qualities, I don't know what does. I'll end by echoing the thoughts below from @AdamDavis on Twitter as I shed a lone happy tear. It really is like our own son just got chosen to be a captain.