Marcus Smart has dreamt of this day for a long time.
The Boston Celtics guard, who's been one of the game's best defenders throughout his eight-year career, was named the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Monday. He's the first point guard to earn the honor since Seattle SuperSonics great Gary Payton, who presented him with the award in front of his teammates at Auerbach Center.
Mikal Bridges congratulates Smart on winning DPOY
Smart was all smiles when he received the news and delivered a speech to his Celtics teammates. He took to Twitter after the celebration with another message and dedicated the award to his late mother, Camellia.
"Really blown away tbh Incredibly honored! Just happy to be able to do get this award with our team and my brothers on the team. This is for you mama! I love you," he wrote."
Smart also spoke to the media about what it means to be the first guard since 1996 to win Defensive Player of the Year.
"First off, it's understandable why it was such a big man award," Smart said. "They do so much in helping their team on that end. So, we give our credit to the big men. But us guards, we've been working. We're the front line, you've got to get past us first and that's just how we guards feel. So, to be able to be named the Defensive Player of the Year and be the first guard since Gary Payton in 1996 to win this, it just shows not only me but everybody else that it can be done.
"The way the game is changing, the guards are being more recognized for their abilities to do certain things that we shouldn't be able to do at our size. I think this award and me winning it shows that an opens the path for us guards in the future."
Smart earned 257 total points in the voting to edge out Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges, who totaled 202. Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, the DPOY winner in three of the previous four seasons, placed third with 136 points.
Once Smart and the C's celebration dies down, they'll focus back on their first-round playoff series vs. the Brooklyn Nets. They'll look to take a 2-0 series lead on Wednesday night.
Note: Games 2-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.