As the lights inside TD Garden went black, Marcus Smart looked up at the neon-green illuminated Jumbotron in astonishment. On the screen, a video reel played clips and highlights from Kevin Garnet’s time on the Celtics.
“What’s going on?” the Celtics guard thought.
He watched as the video displayed the passion Garnett competed with: clips of him iconically hitting his chest, or on the free-throw line doing knuckle pushups after Heat power forward Udonis Haslem fouls him. There’s him screaming, yelling, and stomping on the court, and in the air landing a posterizing dunk.
Then, the screen switches to a big reveal, one that even Smart was not aware of: the Celtics would retire Garnett’s jersey.
“Coming 2020-21 season” – the first screen reads, followed by the image of a banner with his No. 5 jersey stitched.
With a surprise video, the Celtics announced they will retire Kevin Garnett’s No. 5 jersey next season. pic.twitter.com/vqpJwrAbXs
— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) February 14, 2020
After the Celtics defeated the Clippers in double-overtime, 141-133, Smart recalled how the video of Garnett’s honor made him feel in that moment.
“Once I got to watching, it just got my blood flowing,” he said.
Smart himself had quite the performance on Thursday and served as a driving force to help solidify the win. He finished with 31 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds — and knocked down a big 3-point shot with two minutes left in overtime to bring the Celtics to within a one-point deficit, 121-122.
He said Garnett’s video fueled his fire on the court.
“If it didn’t get you going, I don’t know what to tell you,” said Smart. “I don’t think you need to be in any type of sports. Just watching that video gives you that extra juice to go out there and compete.”
He also revealed that he’s been told that the energy he brings to the team is reminiscent of the same spirited-energy Garnett had.
“It’s funny because on media day, they always ask me to do the Jumbotron stuff. They said the closest thing to KG they’ve ever seen was me.”
Smart displayed his own passion against the Clippers, such as hustling down the court to put back a loose ball tipped off the fingers of Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Clipper Marcus Morris Sr. He said that type of competitiveness is the team’s mentality going into games.
“Even when we’re down we still feel like we have a chance to win a game,” said Smart. “That’s what makes us so dangerous. [We] have that mindset that we’re going to continue coming back.”