Sometimes, unsung heroes actually get some recognition from the league--or their teams. The latter is much more realistic, and it is what the Boston Celtics did this week.
The team announced the recipient of this season's Red Auerbach Award prior to their game against the Miami Heat on Monday night. And no, it wasn't an April Fool's Day joke.
The award, given to ."the Celtics player or coach who best exemplifies the spirit of what it means to be a Celtic through exceptional performance on and off the court," according to NBC Sports Boston, was handed out--to Marcus Smart.
Smart received quite the standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd after his name was announced. It seemed like C's fans really appreciate what Smart has done for the team this season, even if his numbers are not GOAT numbers.
Smart has made a positive impact on the team this season, stepping up and into the team's starting lineup. He is averaging 8.8 points per game this season with 3.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He has made a career-high 56 starts to date. But obviously, he is known for what he can do on defense. I know there's not really a ton of mainstream defensive statistics out there, but here's one for you: his 1.8 steals per game are the sixth most in the NBA. Next time someone tries to throw Smart under the bus, slap them back with that killer statistic.
The Celtics have been giving out this award since 2006, and Smart is the 12th different player to receive it. Only Paul Pierce, who received the award in 2006 and 2013, and Kevin Garnett, who got it in 2008 and 2012, have received it twice. Last season, the award went to Kyrie Irving so yeah, it really does vary from year-to-year.