Marcus Smart just wrapped up his ninth season in the NBA, averaging 11.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game while helping the Boston Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight year. The 2022 Defensive Player of the Year agreed to do a written Q&A with The Big Lead on a variety of topics (courtesy of his sponsorship with Pronamel), answering questions about Joe Mazzulla, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the NBA's new flopping rules, 'The Town', and more.
THE BIG LEAD: You're one of the most physical defenders in the NBA and it's clear it takes a toll on your body. What is your recovery process like once the offseason begins?
MARCUS SMART: I usually take an extended break after the season is over to let myself heal both mentally and physically. It ends up being about 6 weeks or so and then I slowly get back into the swing of things. Lots of cold tubs, massages and sleep. I try and eat healthy as well so that helps with the recovery process.
TBL: You've been part of good teams and great teams over the course of your career. What separates good teams from great teams in the NBA?
MS: The funny thing is the line between good teams and great teams is very thin. Both good and great teams will have strong leadership starting at the top. Good ownership usually leads to a good front office and a good front office usually leads to a good complement of players and a good product on the court. I always say it's a make or miss league so the difference between good and great teams tends to be a razor-thin line.
TBL: What are your thoughts on the NBA considering introducing a new rule where a technical could be given out for flopping?
MS: I think people tend to forget that just as many high profile players flop on the offensive end as they do on the defensive end. It's tough because flopping or not flopping usually ends up being a judgment call that's left up to the refs. I know the refs have a very difficult job each and every night and I commend them on the job they do, so as long as there is consistency when calling flops on both sides of the ball then I'm good with it!
TBL: If you had to name one thing, what's the biggest difference between playing under Joe Mazzulla and playing under Ime Udoka?
MS: First I want to start off by saying I have a great deal of respect and a great relationship with both Ime and Joe. Both are outstanding coaches who will be coaching in the NBA for many years to come. If I had to pick one difference between the two it would probably be Ime was more a defense-first coach and I think Coach Joe was a little more offensive-minded.
TBL: As a point guard, what do you enjoy most about playing with two elite wings in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown?
MS: The thing I enjoy most about playing with Jaylen and Jayson is getting them the ball and playmaking for them. I've been a point guard my entire life so setting up my teammates and watching them succeed is what I enjoy most. I've also really enjoyed watching them grow up both on and off the court. I can't tell you how proud I am of their development and the best is yet to come!
TBL: Do you also love The Town?
MS: The Town is a great movie, big Ben Affleck fan and it was based in Boston so how could I not love that movie!
TBL: Are you going to stick with the green hair dye next season?
MS: My mom always loved the Green hair style so I think I will probably stay with it. No promises though lol!
TBL: How can you and the rest of the Celtics return to the NBA Finals next year?
MS: As Brad Stevens said in his end of the year interview, each player and coach needs to come back just a little bit better than we were when last season ended. We are a very very close-knit group, so I know we are excited for next season already.
TBL: How did your partnership with Pronamel begin?
MS: I have been using Pronamel as my regular toothpaste for years now to help defend my teeth from cavities, so it was really organic and just made sense from the beginning with me being Defensive Player of the Year in 2022.
TBL: How important is teeth health to you?
MS: The health of my teeth is very important to me - as Defensive Player of the Year, I use Pronamel Active Shield as my toothpaste since it is as tenacious at protecting my enamel as I am guarding my opponent.