When Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka added assistant coach, former NBA point guard Damon Stoudamire to his coaching staff over the summer, Udoka made that decision with one player in mind — Marcus Smart.
Smart, the longest-tenured Celtic, who inked a four-year, $77 million extension during the offseason, secured the starting point guard role ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
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Udoka knew a coach like Stoudamire would be the perfect fit for his coaching staff to mold Marcus into an elite point guard.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with the likes of Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry,” Stoudamire reflected, per Taylor Snow via Celtics.com. “And now to be able to work with Marcus as he’s just about to enter the peak of his prime, I’m excited.”
Celtics’ Marcus Smart: ‘As a Coach, You’ve Gotta Be Understandable’
So is Marcus, who is already admittingly very comfortable with his new assistant coach.
“As a coach, you’ve gotta be understandable,” Smart said, per Celtics.com. “You’ve got to understand certain situations with the player that you’re trying to coach. You have to understand who they are as a person, how they react to certain things, and think, ‘What can I do to help make them engaged in what we’re talking about?’ Some coaches just come in and they think, ‘Oh, it should be this way,’ but times have changed.
“You have to be able to evolve with the game and with the players, so having somebody who understands me as a person, understands my game, understands the type of game that I like to play, is important.”
Damon Stoudamire: ‘Marcus Has a Ceiling That He Hasn’t Reached Yet’
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens proved to be the man best for the job of ushering in a new era with Udoka in tow. By hiring a former player in Ime, who joined the Celtics at a time when the team was in flux and needed a new voice to lead its core in All-Stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Smart.
“I’m not one of those guys that’s trying to be a miracle worker, this situation was really good when I stepped into it,” Stoudamire acknowledged, per Celtics.com. “A guy like Marcus Smart just finally has the opportunity as he steps into a starting role, to show everyone what he’s probably been thinking in his head that he’s capable of being the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics.”
According to Damon, there’s still plenty of room for Smart to grow.
“I really believe that Marcus has a ceiling that he hasn’t reached yet, and now it’s just a matter of getting him there,” Stoudamire added. “I’m excited to be working with him. I’m excited for his opportunity as the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics, and I’ll do anything possible to help him reach and attain the level that he wants to, even if that means being a bad cop at times. I’ve always told him that my actions are showing you that, even if at times you don’t like me, it’s never coming from a bad place. I’m just trying to get you to be the player, maximize the player that you’re capable of being.”