Marcus Smart says his basketball career nearly came to an end two seasons ago — and he still has a few mementos, of sorts, as reminders of how fortunate he is that it didn’t.
In a podcast interview released Monday with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Celtics guard said he saved the shard of glass that doctors removed from his shooting hand, after he cut it punching a picture frame in a Los Angeles hotel room during a team road trip in January 2018. The piece of glass reportedly ended up between two tendons near his right pinky, which could have been debilitating if Smart wasn’t as lucky.
“I actually still have the glass somewhere saved … to remind me each and every day how blessed I am to still be playing,” Smart told Lowe.
While the Celtics’ tenacious defensive stopper noted that he has suffered numerous injuries during his six NBA seasons, it was the off-court hand injury that could have proven the most serious.
“The doctor actually told me, like you said, an eighth of an inch away I probably might not be playing basketball again for the rest of my life,” Smart added. “They said it would have tore everything in my hand. It was pretty thick amount of glass that came out of my hand. I couldn’t believe it.”
Smart revealed that he also has a few less-voluntary keepsakes from the injury.
“I actually still have pieces of glass stuck in my hand,” he said.
According to Smart, doctors determined it would be less dangerous to leave the pieces of glass than to try to remove them. He ultimately got the cut stitched and missed just 11 games due the injury.
Smart had previously asserted that the injury could have ended his season if it required surgery, but this week was the first time he said it actually could have ended his entire career. Shortly after the incident, the then-23-year-old apologized to his Celtics teammates, coaches and fans for letting his emotions get the best of him.
“I’m embarrassed and disappointed in my actions,” he tweeted at the time. “I swiped at and hit a picture frame on the wall. I feel like I let all y’all down.”
The reason for why he hit the frame hasn’t been fully explained, though the Boston Herald reported at the time that it involved since-deleted pictures “posted by a female acquaintance on social media.”