Celtics

Marcus Smart described the ‘honor’ of playing in front of Barack Obama

"That’s definitely a highlight of my life."

Marcus Smart drives against Chicago's Patrick Williams Wednesday night. AP

Marcus Smart had a little extra motivation to play well during Wednesday night’s Celtics-Bulls game in Chicago.

Former President Barack Obama took in the game from the stands, and while he might not have liked what he saw from his Bulls in their 117-94 loss to the Celtics, his presence in the building was felt by the visiting team.

“The former president of the United States, I think that’s one of the biggest celebrities you could play in front of,” Smart said when asked about playing in front of Obama.

Smart was solid but not spectacular during his team’s win, posting 9 points, 6 assists, and 2 rebounds in 25:45 of play. The Celtics were a plus-20 with Smart on the floor.

Smart added that playing in front of Obama had special meaning for him.

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“That’s an honor,” said Smart. “To come in here and have that opportunity, I wish my mom was here to see it, but she’s watching, smiling over me. She saw that. So that’s definitely a highlight of my life, my career, to play in front of somebody like that.”

Smart’s mother, Camellia, died in 2018 after a battle with cancer.

Obama, a former Illinois U.S. and state senator, is a noted Chicago sports fan, with a particular interest in basketball. In 2020, Obama encouraged NBA players to end their strike in the wake of the police shooting of Jakob Blake, reportedly telling the players they’d have a bigger platform to stand up against racial injustices if they remained on the court.

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