Marcus Smart explained why he showed up to the Celtics season-opener in an open-chested Versace robe

"She always called me her little king so I had to dress like one.”

Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart is held back by teammates during a scuffle in the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Cleveland. Smart was ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Marcus Smart is held back by teammates during a scuffle in the first half of a preseason game earlier this month. –Tony Dejak / AP

Marcus Smart lit up NBA social media before he even stepped on the court Tuesday night.

The Celtics guard made quite a fashion statement before his team’s season-opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, showing up to TD Garden in an open-chested black and gold Versace robe, chains, and matching spiked-out shoes — and spurring more than a few blog posts.

However, Smart says there was a meaning behind his bold pregame outfit. Tuesday was the one-month anniversary of his mother’s death.

“She always called me her little king so I had to dress like one,” Smart told The Athletic’s Jay King.

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According to King, Smart also got a tattoo honoring his late mother, Camellia, who died at the age of 63 from a form of bone marrow cancer. He wore shoes with the date of her death, Sept. 16, 2018, written on the back, too.

“She’s always with me,” Smart told King. “So these are my game shoes from now on.”

Smart had remained incredibly close with his mother through his basketball career, calling her on the phone every day. And as King previously reported, she was never hesitant to critique his performance on the court. Smart announced her passing last month in an emotional note, calling his mother “his role model,” “friend,” “glue,” “biggest fan,” and “biggest critic.”

In the wake of her death, the hard-nosed 24-year-old guard has also been open about how he’s looked to basketball as a refuge.

“I look at basketball as a storm, but it’s the eye of the storm,” he told reporters last month. “The calmest place of it is to be right in the middle — the eye of it — and that’s what basketball is for me. It’s my eye. When everything else around me is going on, the distractions and things like that, basketball keeps me calm. That’s probably why I go out and you see me dive on the floor or take a charge or lay my body this way and give it everything I have, because I know and understand any day could be my last day. If it was, would I be proud of what I’ve accomplished?”

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