Marcus Smart Details Racist Experiences Before and After Making the NBA

Sep 3, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) passes the ball against the Toronto Raptors during the second half in game three of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent article published in The Players’ Tribune, Marcus Smart discussed his experience with the pandemic and the social justice movement.

Smart was one of the first players to test positive for COVID-19 after the initial shutdown. The Celtics played the Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert a few nights before. He was asymptomatic, luckily. His father also tested positive but had a history of respiratory issues. Fortunately, he was also asymptomatic.

Smart linked the pandemic to the fact that COVID-19 impacted African-American communities the hardest. He then got into his experience with racism as a child, in college, and in the NBA.

As a child, Marcus Smart recalled being “followed by sales associates in stores and called derogatory names.” In his sophomore year, smart went viral after he pushed a Texas Tech fan in the stand for calling him the n-word.

Even with the fame that comes with the NBA, Smart was still discriminated against for being an African-American with money. After he bought a Range Rover his rookie year, he made sure his tint was legal. However, he kept getting pulled over. Officers questioned if the car was his and asked if he “was a rapper or something?”

Other NBA players corroborate his story. Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks currently has a suit against the Milwaukee police department for an incident with the police. Moe Harkless, who previously played for the Portland Trailblazers, was also questioned whether his vehicle belonged to him. Even in NBA arenas, players have complained about racial slurs thrown their way in cities like Salt Lake City.

Marcus Smart’s Most Impactful Incident

The most impactful story Smart told was after a home game at the Garden:

“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. 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 Celts 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!!!!”

The woman was a Celtics fan, yet that didn’t stop her from calling one of the team members the n-word. Smart viewed it as he was only “a form of entertainment. Nothing more.”

However, Marcus Smart ends on a positive note. He compares the beginning of the social justice movements to the first game in a “seven-game series.” Furthermore, he adds that the “closers” will be the children of today. 

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