WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart and James Young were introduced on Monday as the two newest members of the Boston Celtics. They’ve only been members of the team for a few days, but it already feels as if they’ve been around for years.
There are a few characteristics that exemplify what it means to have Celtic Pride. One must be humble. He must be motivated. He must be hungry, selfless and a hard worker. Smart and Young check off all of those boxes.
Smart has already played for a well-known and prideful basketball organization once before. He was a member of the USA Men’s U18 Championship team in 2012. He likens that experience to what he is walking into here in Boston, where the team’s result – and not a player’s stats – is always of the utmost importance.
“It kind of reminds me of how the Celtic Pride is,” Smart said on Monday. “You have a lot of great players that sacrifice their egos and their own self to do one thing and that’s to help the team win… [Celtic Pride is] to play for the name on the front of the jersey and not on the back.”
Young echoed similar thoughts of sacrifice and selflessness. It is clear that neither player is overly concerned with the role with which they’ll play next season. They’re more worried about helping to push the Celtics’ win total up by any means possible.
“The thing that stood out in the evaluation of these two guys is they get it. They get it,” Brad Stevens said. “They get that there’s a lot of work that goes into being good and it’s about the name on the front of the jersey and all of those things.”
The name on the front of their new jersey carries more history than any other basketball jersey in the world. The Celtics have won 17 championships and they strive for many more. Smart and Young don’t just understand that fact; they’re motivated by it.
“We’re just excited to be here,” Smart said. “We embrace these banners. It means a lot to us, the tradition that’s here. We just want to go out there and play our game and just feel a part of this tradition and really embrace it all.”
Meanwhile, Young’s eyes looked up to the ceilings and scanned around the team’s 17 championship banners that hang above the practice court. He then hit an 18th banner that hangs blank against the wall with a spotlight shining upon it.
“That empty banner up there,” he said with a grin, “I’m just looking at it for motivation.”
There’s no doubt that Smart and Young possess the talent to eventually help the team fill that empty banner. Danny Ainge used Monday’s press conference to highlight Smart’s competitiveness and defensive abilities, as well as Young’s shooting and ability to rise up under the brightest of lights. If they add to their repertoires over time, they can become game-changers.
“Both of these guys I think are capable, in time and through hard work, to be winning players on both ends of the court,” Ainge said.
If you’re a gambler, you should put your money on Smart and Young reaching that level. True Celtics put in the time and hard work, and these guys already feel like true Celtics.