Former Boston Celtics fan favorite Marcus Smart opened up to Dallas Basketball’s Grant Afseth about playing with notorious Beantown (and Cleveland, and Brooklyn) villain Kyrie Irving — revealing the things he appreciated learning from the eight-time All-Star.
“I would have to say my favorite part about being Kyrie’s teammate is his ability to see the game and just learning from him,” Smart said of Irving. “The things he sees on the court, both offensively and when he’s going against defenses. Just picking his brain with certain plays, certain matchups, how to get his shot in certain areas and just how he can lock in and go out every night and play consistently.”
Smart’s Memphis Grizzlies lost their fourth game of the season against Irving’s Dallas Mavericks on October 30. Smart had a well-rounded 23-point, nine-assist, five-rebound stat line, but Irving was not in the lineup; sidelined with a foot issue.
Marcus Smart one of the few beneficiaries of Kyrie Irving’s Boston Celtics tenure
While Smart seemed to glean positivity from Irving’s presence in Boston, that’s not the case for Jayson Tatum, who allegedly picked up bad habits from Irving in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and from Tristan Thompson in 2020-21.
“I keep going back to Kyrie (Irving) and Tristan Thompson,” Locked On Celtics’ John Karalis prefaced before saying, “And I swear I feel like they poisoned Tatum’s brain. I feel like those guys, at the beginning, Tatum learned from Kyrie, that the regular season doesn’t matter. You’ve learned from Tristan Thompson that the regular season doesn’t matter. And I just don’t think he puts the same value (on the regular season). I really, I honestly believe that.”
While the Celtics were never bad with Irving, his lasting impact certainly isn’t optimal. It hasn’t stopped Boston from going on deep playoff runs, but it’s fair to ask if it prolonged the Cs reaching Banner 18.