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NEW YORK -- As the longest-tenured Boston Celtic, Marcus Smart knows that comes with a level of responsibility that’s only amplified when you consider all that went wrong from a leadership standpoint last season for this team.
Smart often lets his actions speak for him as a leader, but that’s just not going to cut it anymore.
He has to become more vocal on the floor with his teammates, which he has done more of this season. Smart has to also demonstrate the value of team bonding which is at the heart of his decision to have the entire team go out to the movies on Sunday night.
The get-together itself is unique, but making it stand out even more so is that they are doing it on the day after a back-to-back which is often a time for rest, recovery and relaxation away from one another.
This is all part of Smart’s plan to better facilitate team chemistry which he readily admits was spotty at times last season.
“Last year for us it was really big, chemistry,” he said. “Some days we had it and some days we didn’t. So this year I wanted to make sure the chemistry was there, the bonds were there and everybody was comfortable off the court. I think the best way is getting around each other as much as possible.”
Kemba Walker, one of the new faces still embracing the Celtic way of doing things, is all for anything that helps foster closer bonds among the players.
“We want to be as close as possible,” Walker said. “I’ve always been a big believer if you really get along and like each other, it translates on the court. It makes you want to play for your brother.”
Establishing that connectivity at this point in the Celtics’ franchise is vitally important when you consider the number of young players that they are counting on to perform now and in the coming years.
Carsen Edwards, a second-round pick out of Purdue, has been around the game long enough to know how special moments spent together as a team can be to help facilitate stronger bonds which will be tested at various points during the season.
When he first learned that Smart was planning to have a team event, he thought it said as much about Smart as it did the Celtics’ culture.
“You can tell he’s all about the team,” Edwards told NBC Sports Boston. “He wants the best for us.”
Boston’s Jaylen Brown echoed those sentiments.
“It’s good; it helps,” Brown said. “Anything we can do together is obviously going to help on the court. As we get to know each other better, it’s gonna be great.”
And with Smart taking the initiative to put this together, it also says a lot about how he has evolved as a leader for this team.
“I’ve always been like that, but usually I kind of do it and don’t tell anybody,” Smart said. “As a leader, that’s one of those things I need to be able to do is lead guys together. Especially in times like this when we’re doing good.”
It’s easy for these times to lead to guys feeling as though their contributions are greater than those of their teammates, and thus splintering begins in the middle of a successful run.
Smart’s not having that this year.
“We just came out (and won) our second game in a row and feel good about ourselves,” he said. “Just make sure we can keep ourselves humble and we still have a lot of things to do.”
And leading that charge will be Smart, showing us all his evolution as a leader for this Celtics team.
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