Marcus Smart doesn't necessarily blame the NBA stars who chose not to participate in the 2019 FIBA World Cup this summer.
And he's well aware Team USA's seventh-place finish in the tournament is a failure worthy of criticism.
But the Boston Celtics guard still has a bone to pick with American fans whom he believes were rooting against Team USA while it was grinding away in China.
"That was tough for us," Smart told The Athletic's Sam Amick and Joe Vardon on the latest episode of their "Tampering" podcast. "We see and hear everybody back at home talking and really letting us have it, and it's like, hey, while you guys are sitting at home on your couch watching us, we're the ones out here actually putting in the work.
"We're the ones getting beat up. We're the ones getting hurt. We're the ones sacrificing our time, our bodies and things like that while you guys are sitting at home eating popcorn."
Celtics fans will recognize the passion in Smart's answer. The 25-year-old guard took on a leadership role for an undermanned Team USA squad that featured three other Celtics but was missing superstars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and James Harden, who all opted to stay home.
Smart, who appeared in five of Team USA's eight games in China while battling a leg injury, respects those players' decisions, but believes the resulting lack of support Americans showed Team USA didn't help his squad's cause.
"It's kind of sad that, while we go out here and play other countries that are all united -- their country is rooting for these guys -- we have some of our guys back at the house and fans back in America just rooting against us," Smart continued.
"It was really hard for us to go over there anyway, we were already at a disadvantage playing against other teams, let alone knowing that guys back at the house really weren't on our side. It was really us versus the world."
The world ended up winning, as France bounced Team USA in the quarterfinals. But Smart wishes his team had gotten a little more support back home.
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