Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics has yet to tip off but Dub Nation already has its villain firmly in place. That dubious distinction goes to Marcus Smart, of course, and it’s one that’s well-earned.
During a March game between the two teams, Smart’s decision to dive recklessly into Steph Curry‘s legs for a loose ball resulted in the Warriors star missing a month of action. Putting that aside, though, Smart is just one of those players with a knack for drawing the ire of opposing fanbases.
“I’m used to it,” Smart told Yahoo’s Chris Haynes when asked about getting booed at Chase Center. “When am I not a target by fans, especially while going up against their favorite player? It’s always been like that. I know I’m not the league’s favorite, I know I’m not the fan favorite all the time and I know I’m not a lot of people’s favorite player.”
That and Steph’s injury aside, Smart gave Warriors fans even more reason to boo him during an appearance on JJ Redick’s podcast, The Old Man & the Three, earlier this year when he made a wild claim about Golden State’s 2018 title team.
With the clip’s resurfacing on Monday, the Bay Area faithful find themselves up in arms once again.
Smart Sounds Off on Celtics’ Chances Against the Steph/KD Dubs of 2018
When asked if there was a time he could remember when the Eastern Conference was as hotly contested as it was during the 2021-22 campaign, Smart had an answer locked and loaded.
“It’d actually be for me… the year LeBron [James] beat us in Game 7 — ’18,” the 2022 DPOY said. He didn’t stop there, though.
“To this day, we still thought if we went to the championship instead of LeBron and those guys, we definitely would have beat Golden State that year.”
For the record, the Dubs, who were led by Steph and Kevin Durant that year, swept James’ Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0 in the 2018 NBA Finals. So, to declare — as an indisputable fact — that the Celtics would have captured the chip is definitely a bold statement.
This much is certain: Boston bucked some incredible odds in capturing the No. 2 seed, advancing to the East Finals and taking James’ Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games that year.
After all, the club lost its prized free-agent acquisition, Gordon Hayward, to a compound fracture on opening night, and, later, star point guard Kyrie Irving also went down. In their stead, the Beantowners were led by a 19-year-old Jayston Tatum, a 21-year-old Brown and a 23-year-old Smart.
“Go get ’em. That was it for us, that was our mentality,” Smart said of the effort. “Like, ‘We’re young guys who are very talented and we’re ready now!'”
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As one might have expected, Warriors fans weren’t feeling Smart’s comments now any more than when he first made them in February. When a clip of his exchange with Redick and co-host Tommy Alter was tweeted out on Monday, they were quick to hammer Smart for the take.
“Ok I was fine for this being a good series but I want the warriors to sweep this dude,” exclaimed one fan. “Gets the dpoy and finals spot and thinks he can take our a dynasty at [its] full power. Brother wouldn’t even put up the same fight lebron did In game 1.”
“Bulletin board material for the dubs,” another tweet read.
“Talk-talk-talk…Marcus, it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that ring!” chastised another respondent.
“This is delusional and wrong, but it does not surprise me in the least that Marcus Smart believes this,” added a fourth commenter.