Celtics

The 'bleeding tears,' sunglasses at night and other details from Marcus Smart's eye ailment

The 'bleeding tears,' sunglasses at night and other details from Marcus Smart's eye ailment

TORONTO -- The eye irritation seemed more bothersome than a burden at first for Marcus Smart. 

But even with the added attention he was receiving from the Boston Celtics’ medical staff, it just wasn’t getting any better to the point where there was growing concern that it might impact his vision long-term. 

“The way it was going, they were so worried it was affecting my cornea and my vision,” Smart told reporters prior to today’s game against Toronto. “It was a little scary.”

While Smart is on the mend and could return to action as early as Friday's game against Cleveland, it’s clear that it will be a while before he fully puts the events of the past couple of weeks regarding eyes fully behind him.

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Concerns about his eyes began to pick up after the symptoms associated with what they thought was an allergic reaction that affected his left eye, cleared up only for those same symptoms to resurface in his right eye. 

Smart said that’s when an allergic reaction was ruled out, and the doctors diagnosed him as suffering from an adenovirus which can infect the inner lining of the eyes as well as other internal parts of the body that includes but isn’t limited to the nervous system. 

And it made sense to Smart who was trying to fight off a cold that got so bad that the Celtics sent him home from practice to ensure, as best they could, that he would not infect any of his teammates. 

“That just broke my immune system down and opened it up for everything else, and everything else in my body went haywire,” Smart said.

Smart described the pain he experienced in his eye as painful as anything he’s ever felt. 

There was a steady burning sensation along with limited vision and added sensitivity to light.

“I couldn’t see. I had to wear sunglasses everywhere I went. Even in the dark I was wearing sunglasses. It was that bad.”

The mornings were particularly tough for Smart in those first few days. 

“Every morning I would wake up, I’d have this sticky discharge coming out of my eyes; sealing my eyes shut. It was gross,” said Smart who added, “it got so bad that my eyelids started forming these mucous membranes and they literally had to go in and pry the mucous membranes. It was pretty gross. I was bleeding tears every time they did it, for like a day. They did that for four days straight. 

He added, “the first day was the worst. It built up so much it started to scab under my eyelids. It felt like they were putting needles in my eyes. They were using tweezers and get into my eyelids, both the bottom and the top. It was definitely some pain I never want to go through again.”

Smart admits he’s not fully back to his old self yet, but he’s definitely in a better position than he was a couple weeks ago.

He said he feels he’s at about 80 percent right now. 

And the dosage he has been taking for his eyes is down to two different sets of eye drops from three. 

But as badly as Smart wants to get back on the floor and hates having missed so many games, he does see the silver lining in this eye ailment. 

“On the good side, I got to heal up … with the injuries I had and let my body do what it does,” Smart said. 

And pretty soon, he'll go back to doing what his body does best which is to impact games in a way that has been key to the Celtics’ success. And that once again has them among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Friday at 3:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 4 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

The Boston Celtics are sad to see Kara Lawson go, but ecstatic to see her begin a new chapter as head coach of the Duke University women's basketball program.

Lawson, who joined the C's prior to this season and became the first female assistant coach in franchise history, was officially welcomed aboard by Duke on Saturday. Former Duke star Jayson Tatum promptly congratulated her on the exciting opportunity, and several C's followed suit after their practice Sunday.

"We’re thrilled for her," said head coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t want to take away from her press conference tomorrow before she gets more of a chance to talk about it. I can’t say enough about what a terrific person, terrific coach, she’ll be a great fit at Duke with their incredible tradition.

"She’s really excited. We actually went on a walk – Kara, [Stevens’ wife] Tracy and I – a couple of months ago. And we were talking about what she’d be interested in the future, and being the head coach at Duke was one of the things that came up. So it’s really cool that she’s getting a chance to do that. She’ll be terrific."

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Even after just one season, Lawson has made a tremendous impact on Boston's players. Celtics big man Robert Williams opened up about how Lawson was a positive influence both on and off the court.

"Kara is always known for putting a smile on players' faces," Williams said. "She stays in your ear, even though she may not be your personal coach she always keeps asking how I'm doing and if there's anything I need to talk about, so I feel like Duke is going to get a great head coach. We're going to miss her. We don't want her to go, but it's on to bigger and better opportunities."

Smart echoed Williams' sentiments, calling Lawson a "friend" and someone he had a connection with since she was hired by the Celtics last summer.

"When Kara first got here, actually, and this is why our bond has been strong, she had the option to work with anybody. Brad gave her the option to choose who she wanted to work with, and the first person she chose with me," said Smart. "When she told Brad the reason why, she just liked the way I play my whole game. So that really hit home for me and it meant a lot. And like I said our relationship just built amongst that and she became more than just my shooting coach, she became a longtime friend and somebody I know I can talk to if I ever need advice.”

Lawson starred as a player at the University of Tennessee and went on to have 13 successful seasons in the WNBA. She served as an NBA and WNBA analyst for ESPN before joining the Celtics' coaching staff.

If what the C's had to say about Lawson is any indication, there's no doubt she will do great things for Duke as it aims to make its way back into the NCAA Tournament.

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

The Boston Celtics' plan to ease Kemba Walker back into the flow of things was on full display Sunday as Walker (knee) was held out for all of the team’s first "hard practice" since the team entered the Orlando Bubble as part of the NBA's return to play.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said this is part of the team’s plan of progression in working Walker back into being at his best physically for the playoffs, so that the stop-and-start state of his play won’t be the case by the time Boston gets to the postseason.

Walker has been among the most durable players in the NBA for years.

But this season, the 30-year-old has missed 16 games, most of which were due to left knee soreness. To put that in perspective, Walker missed just four games the four previous seasons combined.

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Without Walker, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked a lot of what he saw on Sunday in what was the team’s first hard practice. 

“Guys really got after it,” Stevens said.

He anticipates another hard practice on Monday with a day off on Tuesday. 

Walker is in the first year of a four-year, $141 million deal he signed after spending his first eight NBA seasons in Charlotte. 

This season, he is Boston’s No. 2 scorer with a 21.2 points per game average along with dishing out 4.9 assists while grabbing 4.1 rebounds.