Game 5 of 82, Friday, November 6, 430 PST
Pacers @ Celtics
Illness. Injury. Being sick. Not well. There really are two universes: the healthy and the non-healthy. Kind of the like there are those who live outside of prison, and those who are locked up. Also, from what I gather, kind of how there are those who have children and those who don’t. Dividing lines. If we lived in a better world, we would more openly acknowledge those that deal with pain and illness, those that live with an intense awareness of freedom because they lack that very thing, and we would all take more responsibility for each other’s children. Instead, we seem to live in a world where everyone demands everyone else to get better immediately, where prisons often function for profit instead of rehabilitation and prisoner’s rights are usually ignored, and where other’s people’s children are often thought of as problems.
Marcus Smart was one of those often-ignored children, though never ignored by his family. As explained to Eric Prisbell in USA Today, from a January, 2013 piece), Marcus had a complicated childhood. He grew up in a place few have ever heard of: Lancaster, Texas. South of Dallas. He grew up in a close-knit family that saw more than its share of adversity. Marcus’ mother, Camelia, went for dialysis three times a week. Marcus’ mentor was his older brother Todd, a former hoops star in high school. After being diagnosed with cancer, Todd did his best to help show his younger brothers what they would need to survive as men. After a prolonged bout, Todd’s life ended when Marcus was 9 years-old. For the next several years, Marcus dealt with the loss in progressively worse ways. His older brother, Michael, joined a gang. Violence surrounded the family. There was one night in which he and his friend, who took turns throwing rocks at people walking down below their building, hit the wrong dude.
Marcus ran. The chase was on. He kept running. His speed saved his life. The man had a gun. Marcus remembers seeing the man closing in on him, maybe 15 yards away, he remembers hearing the bullets and thinking he was going to die. But he survived…and then he changed. He focused on basketball and being around the right people. His story is much more complicated than these few details. Reading a few articles doesn’t allow me to understand what made Marcus the kind of person he is today, but it helps to paint a broader picture. Comcast Sportsnet New England is running a 30-minute show, “The Education of Marcus Smart,” which will shed light on Marcus’ childhood a bit more.
On Friday night, Marcus was racing down the court against the Pacers and landed on the foot of Solomon Hill, turning his left ankle awkwardly. He was on the TD Garden floor in what looked like severe agony. It was brutal to watch. The new source of hope for Celtics fans unable to limp off the court, barely moving. A stretcher was used to help him off.
Fortunately, the ankle was only sprained. The news that he will only miss 2-to-3 weeks was surprising. It seemed far worse at the time.
The Celtics won the game, beating a badly depleted Indiana Pacers team that has seen far more than it’s share of injuries already this year. Beating these Pacers was nothing like beating last year’s Pacers would have been. No Paul George (gone for the season with a leg injury). No emotional leader in power forward David West. PG George Hill, SG Rodney Stuckey, and SF C.J. Miles all temporarily out with injuries. Really, it would have been an ugly loss had the Celtics not won this game.
Fortunately, they did. And more importantly, they won’t be losing Marcus Smart for too long.
This year’s Celtics team needs their spark-plug rookie. We need to get to know Marcus Smart.