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Marcus Smart congratulates Celtics on their championship, but adds it was "bittersweet" to watch from afar

Are Celtics set up to repeat as NBA champions?
Are Celtics set up to repeat as NBA champions? 05:40

BOSTON -- For the first nine seasons of his NBA career, Marcus Smart poured his blood, sweat, and tears into the Boston Celtics. He was traded away last offseason in a shocking, DNA-altering deal by Boston, and had to watch his former team win a championship this summer. 

While Smart was obviously happy to see guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown lift the Larry O'Brien trophy, the former Celtic admitted that it was bittersweet. He helped the Celtics make the playoffs in all nine of his seasons in Boston, including a trip to the 2022 NBA Finals, but never felt that kind of glory.

After the Celtics lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2023 postseason, owner Wyc Grousbeck and president of basketball ops. Brad Stevens agreed that something had to change. So Smart was traded to the Grizzlies as part of the three-team deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.

Tatum and Brown elevated their all-around games on the court and became stronger leaders in the locker room in 2024. Derrick White continued to do a little bit of everything, and the additions of Porzingis and Jrue Holiday gave Boston the best starting fives in the NBA. The Celtics cruised to the top seed in the East and then went 16-3 in the playoffs on their way to the franchise's 18th championship.

Smart would have loved to have been a part of that, but told Theo Pinson on the "Run Your Race" podcast that he has no ill-will toward his old team. He's extremely pumped that his former teammates won a title.

"Shout out to Jaylen, Jayson and the Boston Celtics. Congratulations on the championship," Smart told Pinson. "They built that. They went through the mud. They didn't skip any steps. I was with them for nine years of my career, and I seen it. It's no coincidence that they reached their goal now. I'm just so proud of them. I'm proud to be in the trenches with them, to know those guys and to be able to work them every day I had that chance to do.

"I know everyone is expecting me to be salty and (stuff). There's no hard feelings from me," Smart added. "It's definitely a bittersweet feeling. It's definitely tough because, like I said, I was in the trenches with them. To not be able to finish what you started with those guys is definitely tough."

As difficult as it was to watch his old team go on a title run, Smart said he cheered them on every step of the way.

"But man, (shoot), my wife will tell you, I was screaming for those guys when they won it just as much as anybody else because I have love for those guys and I know the work that they put in," he said.

Injuries limited Smart to just 20 games in his first season with Memphis. He averaged 14.5 points, 4.3 assists and a career-high 2.1 steals per game for the Grizzlies.

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