BOSTON (CBS) — You’ve seen him hit the floor diving for a loose ball and sacrificing his body to draw a charge at least a handful of times per game. Those are ingrained in Marcus Smart’s DNA as a basketball player, and now the Celtics guard has some hardware to show for his all-out way of play.
Smart brought home the NBA’s Hustle Award for the 2018-19 season, given out over the last three years to the player who does all the little — and occasionally painful — things to help his team win. That is Smart in a nutshell over his four-year NBA career. Somewhere, Red Auerbach is smiling down at Boston’s hard-nosed guard.
Smart admitted Tuesday at his annual basketball camp at Brandies in Waltham that until Monday night, he didn’t know there was a Hustle Award in the NBA.
“I didn’t even know that award existed,” he said with a laugh. “But it was good. I throw my body around a lot. I know I don’t score 20 points and I don’t shoot lights out or dribble like some guys in the league. I just do it the way I was taught to play and I know those things don’t show up on the stat sheet. For that to be an award is incredible.”
While the Celtics had a disappointing season overall, Smart had the best year of his career. He averaged 8.9 points per game off the bench, doing so by hitting a career-high 42.2 percent of the shots he took, to go with his four assists and 1.8 steals per game. But as Celtics fans know, Smart’s impact goes well beyond the box score. He was continually fantastic on the defensive end even though he was usually tasked with guarding the opposition’s best player, earning a spot on the NBA’s All Defensive First-Team. Smart brought grit and energy to the floor every night, and if there was ever a loose ball up for grabs, you knew Smart would fight until the end to secure possession.
Smart now joins Patrick Beverley (2017) and Amir Johnson (2018) as winners of the NBA’s Hustle Award.