Boston Celtics

Marcus Smart shares heartfelt reaction to Celtics winning NBA title

"It's definitely a bittersweet feeling."

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Marcus Smart felt all the feelings watching the Boston Celtics in the 2024 NBA Finals.

The veteran guard spent nine seasons in Boston before the Celtics traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies last June in a three-team deal that delivered Kristaps Porzingis to Boston. Smart spent seven seasons as Jaylen Brown's teammate and six seasons as Jayson Tatum's teammate, witnessing the young duo blossom into NBA stars and team leaders.

And now Smart had to witness Brown, Tatum and the Celtics celebrate the championship that eluded him in Boston despite five trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and one trip to the NBA Finals in 2022.

During an interview Tuesday on the Tidal League's Run Your Race podcast, Smart spoke publicly for the first time about what it was like watching his former teammates win a title.

"Shout out to Jaylen, Jayson and the Boston Celtics. Congratulations on the championship," Smart said. "They built that. They went through the mud; they didn't skip any steps. I was there with them for nine years out of my career, and I (saw) it, and it's no coincidence that they reached their goal now.

"I'm just so proud of them. I'm proud to be able to be in the trenches with them, to know those guys and to go to work every day (with them), which I had that chance to do."

Podcast host (and Maine Celtics alum) Theo Pinson then got Smart to admit it had to be a little difficult watching the Celtics finally get over the hump just one year after trading him out of town.

"I know everybody's expecting me to be salty and s---, but there's no hard feelings for them. Don't get it twisted," Smart began, before adding that it's "definitely a bittersweet feeling."

"It's definitely tough because I was in the trenches with them, so to not be able to finish what you started with those guys is definitely tough.

"But man, s---, my wife will tell you, I was screaming for those guys when they won just as much as anybody else, because I have love for those guys and I know the work that they put in. And I've been through it."

Smart was the heart and soul of this Celtics team for years, setting a tone of grit, hustle and hard work that Tatum and Brown embraced early in their careers. You could argue the C's don't win Banner 18 this season without Smart's contributions over the past nine seasons. But Smart's departure also played a key role in this championship, paving the way for Jrue Holiday's addition and allowing Tatum and Brown to fully embrace their status as team leaders.

In this case, both things can be true, which explains why "bittersweet" is a good adjective to sum up Smart's feelings in the aftermath of Boston's title.

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