Morning sports update: Marcus Smart discussed Kyrie Irving and the Celtics’ disappointing season in ESPN interview

Smart also explained why he's looking forward to teams underestimating the Celtics next season.

Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving
Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving in March, 2019. –Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

On Monday evening, former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Here’s his speech:

Tonight, the Red Sox begin a three-game series at Fenway Park against the Rays as the team continues its fight in the American League wild card race.

Marcus Smart gave his take on Kyrie Irving: With Kyrie Irving now in Brooklyn with the Nets, his legacy from two seasons in Boston has been thoroughly discussed. Much of the analysis has portrayed Irving in a negative light, as a player unable to lead a talented roster to its full potential.


Yet Marcus Smart disagrees. On an episode of ESPN’s “The Jump,” Smart offered his take on Irving and Boston’s disappointing 2018-2019 season.

“Let me make this be clear,” Smart began, “we, not just me, the world, even Kyrie knows, he didn’t play up to the standard that he wanted to. But there are four other guys out there with him, there’s a coach out there, we’re all supposed to be one team, so you can’t just put the blame on one guy because there are things that everybody could’ve done better to not just help Kyrie, but help each other.

“When you’re going in, especially when you’re trying to build that camaraderie, when you start singling those guys out, it makes it really hard,” Smart continued. “We’ve seen it, ourselves inside the locker with things like that when guys calling guys out, and it just wasn’t working for us. So for me, I just wanted to let people know that yes, we understand that Kyrie wasn’t up to Kyrie’s standards, but there’s four other guys, there’s a whole roster full of guys, coaches, everybody participated.”


Smart agreed with the assessment that Irving is “misunderstood.” He also praised Irving’s support as a teammate, citing his own personal story in the loss of his mother to cancer in 2018.

“For me personally — I can’t speak for other guys — but for me personally, Kyrie is a great teammate,” said Smart. “I’ve had sit-downs with Kyrie where things for me probably weren’t going so well, where he was pulling me to the side. And it wasn’t even about basketball. Everybody knows what I went through with my mom, losing her and everything. Kyrie [was] one of the first guys to text me, call me. When I got back to Boston, [he] pulled me to the side, we sat down and we talked. As far as basketball, [he] just helped me slow the game down and really recognize and understand that game even more. So as a teammate, I loved him for it.”

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Smart also spoke about the “dysfunction” in the season, and the role of “team culture.”

Still, he thinks the Celtics could surprise the experts in 2019-2020. When asked if he thinks teams will underestimate Boston next season, Smart didn’t hesitate.

“I 100 percent think they will, and to be honest, that’s exactly how we like it.”

Trivia: On July 31, 2003, the Red Sox traded pitcher Mike Gonzalez and infielder Freddy Sanchez to the Pirates in exchange for relief pitchers Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez. Boston also got a starting pitcher in the deal. Who was the starting pitcher the Red Sox acquired?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: He wouldn’t factor in the Red Sox’ postseason run in 2003 (not even making the playoff roster), but pitched for the Cardinals in the World Series against Boston in 2004. He was notably thrown out by David Ortiz after getting caught too far off third base in the third inning of Game 3.


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