Friday marked the start of a new chapter for Marcus Smart as the former Boston Celtics guard was officially introduced as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Smart was sent to Memphis in a three-team trade last month in which the Celtics acquired Kristaps Porzingis from the Washington Wizards. The move caught Smart by surprise, but the nine-year veteran told reporters on Friday he's excited for a "fresh start" with his new team.
Before showing off his new Grizzlies jersey, Smart took some time to reflect on his time in Boston.
"When I got to Boston, I was a 19-year-old kid from Dallas, Texas. It was a culture shock, it was a social shock, it was a shock to my whole life. Never been to the East Coast or anything like that, so it was all weird to me," Smart said.
"But I grew up. I met some very wonderful people throughout my time there. And my experiences while in Boston, I lost my mom. My fiancée lost her dad while we were in Boston together. So, I've been through some stuff and it's all been in Boston, and Boston is my second home. So, it's been tough, and they're always gonna have a place in my heart."
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The Celtics drafted Smart with the sixth overall pick in 2014. They clinched a playoff berth in each of Smart's nine seasons with the team, including five trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA Finals appearance.
Despite never accomplishing the ultimate goal of bringing Banner 18 to TD Garden, the 29-year-old leaves Boston with no regrets.
"I left everything I had wearing that jersey out on that court," Smart said. "Although we didn't win the championship, in the big scheme of things I don't consider my time there a failure. I helped rebuild that team at the time when I came in and I left it better in that sense. So, I'm very ecstatic with my time there, but like I said, I'm excited for the future and what it holds for me."
Smart also shared his thoughts on how Celtics fans reacted to the news that he had been traded.
"The fan reaction in the city of Boston was exactly what I expected it to be and what anybody who's played in Boston would expect it to be. It's all love," he said. "And they ride for the city hard, man. Just like Memphis, right? And that's how it should be. You're supposed to ride for your city like that. So it's all love, so I wasn't surprised by that."
In addition to missing Smart's defense and leadership on the court, the city of Boston will miss his work in the community. Smart's YounGameChanger Foundation creates create opportunities for inner-city student-athletes through education, sports and mentorships with a special emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) experiences.
Smart plans to bring his foundation with him to Memphis.
"My foundation is something that's a really big part of my life," he said. "I definitely would love to bring it to Memphis and we definitely are talking about it. We're just trying to find the right time and get things situated, but it definitely will be there and I can't wait to get into the community and really get out there and show who I really am.
"I'm more than a basketball player. I'm a human being and I care for others. I understand some of the life obstacles that we go through as humans, and sometimes it just takes somebody to talk to you who understands you and who's been through what you've been through. So, I'm very excited and I can't wait."
Smart isn't the only Celtic to be shipped to the Western Conference this summer. Boston sent Grant Williams to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday in a three-team trade that netted them multiple second-round picks.