Smart's Emotional Trip Home Culminates Tonight
DALLAS – Marcus Smart and the Celtics are about 1,800 miles from Boston, but that won’t prevent Smart from feeling right at home during tonight’s meeting with the Dallas Mavericks.
Smart, who was born and raised in the Dallas area, has had a homecoming of sorts over the past two days. He spent much of Sunday with his family and friends, all before touring the home that he just purchased for his mother.
“She picked out an awesome place,” Smart said Monday morning, noting that he plans to close on the house on Nov. 17. “It’s incredible. I love it.”
Smart also recalled the moment he walked through the front door with his family for the very first time.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I looked at my mom and she was smiling from ear to ear with my dad. I just felt proud.”
As he should. Smart has come a long way over the past five to 10 years. He has hurdled every obstacle that has stood in front of him – bullets, death, gangs, and more – and become a successful young man.
Smart has a bright future but will surely need to overcome more obstacles during his NBA career. The next will stand in front of him tonight.
Smart, playing in his third NBA game, will not only feel the pressure of playing against a talented Western Conference team like the Mavericks; he will also feel the pressure of performing in front of what may wind up being more than 50 family members and friends.
“I got about 32 tickets and it went up some more,” Smart said, “and that’s not counting the people that actually bought their tickets.”
The rookie reported that as of 10 a.m. local time, he was still receiving ticket requests through texts. He said those who are late to the party are welcome to join in on tonight’s fun, but they’ll need to purchase their tickets on their own.
Playing in front of so many family members and friends could knock anyone off of their game, particularly a rookie. Take it from Kelly Olynyk, who has been in this situation before.
Olynyk opened his career by playing in his hometown of Toronto. He, too, was hassled by ticket requests up until tip-off, finally grabbing more than 30 of them for family and friends. Olynyk only managed to notch four points and didn’t record a single rebound or assist in front of his family and friends, an indication of just how stressful playing at home can be.
“A lot of people want your time and stuff and you still need to focus,” Olynyk recalled. “So you’re definitely in a little bit of a conundrum.”
With that in mind, he has some advice for his young teammate.
“To come back here – he’s back at home – you’re going to want to play well but you’ve just got to stick to the course, stick to the game plan,” Olynyk said. “Don’t force anything and just play your game and let the game come to you.”
Smart plans on doing exactly that. On the surface, he seems to be calmed by the fact that he’ll be playing in front of so many of his loved ones.
“I love it when my family comes to watch because when I was growing up they really weren’t there to watch, because they were always busy or they didn’t have time to or couldn’t afford to,” Smart stated. “So it means a lot that they’re all coming down tonight.”
It has been a while since a group like this has gathered to watch Smart do his thing on the basketball court. He told Celtics.com that, despite playing two years in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State, he never played in front of more than five or so family members or friends.
That number will be blown out of the water tonight. Smart will have as much support in the stands as he ever has, and he can’t wait to soak it all in.
“It’s going to be a good night for me,” he said, later adding, “It’s like a home game for me.”