The piece, entitled “This Article Is Not About Basketball,” begins with Smart talking about how this year has deeply affected him in a multitude of ways. Smart wrote about the COVID-19 pandemic, including testing positive for coronavirus, how he spent his newfound downtime in the NBA bubble and the social unrest felt across the nation in wake of the George Floyd killing, which is where Smart pivots into his own personal experience.
“Me and discrimination, me and racial profiling… we go way back,” Smart writes. “We’ve got history.”
Marcus Smart Recalls Stories Of Racist Traffic Stops
Smart begins by telling accounts of his teenage years in Texas, where he was followed in stores and called derogatory names, including his well-documented incident during his sophomore year at Oklahoma State, where a fan call him the N-word after Smart fell into the stands. He retaliated by shoving the fan back into his seat.
Unfortunately, for Marcus, the racism didn’t stop when he arrived in Boston after being selected by the Celtics with the No. 6 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“My rookie year, I bought a new Range Rover, and, knowing what I know about traffic stops in this country, I made damn sure that the tine on the windows was legal,” Smart recalled. “Somehow, though… I just kept getting pulled over for my tint.
One time it was like, “This is a pretty nice car. Pretty expensive. It’s yours???”
“Another time, I get pulled over for the tint again, and the officer recognizes who I am. So for whatever reason he starts going in on Colin Kaepernick.
“I can’t believe that guy would actually kneel like that during the anthem,” he tells me. “Can you believe that? I’m just really glad you’re not like that guy. Right? You’re not one of them.”
I was terrified hearing that. I felt like that officer was looking for me to challenge him, or to respond in a way that would allow him to take some action against me. I basically just kept quiet, hoped for the best, and asked, again and again, ‘Is that all, officer?’”
Smart added another officer, in a separate incident, assumed he was a rapper because Smart was driving an expensive car and then quickly retracted the assumption; he told the Celtics guard “no, you speak too well to be a rapper.”
The Night A Celtics Fan Called Marcus Smart The N-Word
However, the incident that Smart says he still thinks about everyday occurred just outside TD Garden a few years back.
“I was pulling out of the arena parking lot when I saw a white woman with her five- or six-year-old son crossing against the light right as the cars were starting to come at them,” Smart wrote. “I had my windows down and realized something bad was about to happen, so I yelled to her, politely, that she needed to hurry and get out of the street so the two of them wouldn’t get hurt. The woman was wearing an Isaiah Thomas number 4 jersey. And there were all these other Celtics fans around who were at the game. I figured she’d be cool.
She swung her head around and it was…
“F*** you, you f***ing n-word!!!!”
For a second it was like I couldn’t breathe. Did she really say that? And in an instant, just like that, I was made to feel less than human. I wasn’t a person to this woman. I was a form of entertainment. Nothing more. And, believe me, it took every ounce of restraint in my body to not curse her out.”
Smart revealed he’s prayed for the little boy who was clutching his mother’s arm as she screamed the racial slur because he believes that children can change the future, and is still shocked that a mother could spew such hatred in front of a little boy. That’s why when friendly protestors marched the streets of Boston in the name of Floyd, social injustice, Smart rushed in to join.
For Smart, the experience instilled hope for a better future.
“I’m telling you, these young ones… they get it,” Smart wrote. “They understand that love is better than hate, that innocent people should not be hurt or killed, that fairness and equality should be given within our society, and that we’re all in this together.”