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The Spirit of Marcus Smart

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
The Boston Celtics guard and reigning NBA DPOY speaks on his trademark grit, Tres Generaciones tequila’s “Get Up Tres” campaign, and what’s motivating him to get back to the NBA Finals.

One of the most unique figures in all of major American professional sports, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart credits his success to a formula of perseverance, creativity, and purpose.

A recent endorsement partnership with tequila brand Tres Generaciones had the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year help launch a campaign called “Get Up Tres,” which encourages artists, creators, and fans to celebrate life’s missteps, focus on the journey, and always get up despite obstacles they may encounter along the way. The 29-year-old Smart has had his share of obstacles, losing an older brother at a young age in 2004 and his mother in 2018, so the campaign is a personal, heartfelt one for him and his family.

Thinking on missteps that motivate him today, one in particular that the guard focuses on is losing the 2022 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors. Boston fell in six games, and Smart felt that his team didn’t hit enough shots and let some things slip. If they tightened up in key moments, Smart said, the Celtics would be reigning NBA champions.

“We played a really good team and more power to those guys. You just have to tip your hat. They’re the champs for a reason and we learned a lot from those guys,” Smart told Boardroom. “They made us work and made us understand what it takes to keep going. When things aren’t looking like they’re in your favor, you have to keep going. You have to figure it out, and that’s what they did. They constantly figured out a way.”

The Texas native still regrets not being able to hold the Larry O’Brien trophy up as a first-time NBA champion, and he doesn’t shy away from the agonizing nature of the defeat.

“What hurt more than actually losing is the fact of how close we were,” Smart said. “We were able to feel it, taste it, see it, smell it, hear it. And all last summer, that’s all we had to deal with and hear was, ‘You guys almost did it. You almost made it.’ Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades. It definitely sucked.”

Smart does have some fond recollections from that Finals series, however. He sported bright Celtics green hair as he locked in to defend Golden State’s top scoring threats — he said that his hair is one of the strongest reflections of his creative drive.

“My mom loved my hair,” he said. “She loved when I had it in the mohawk stage, when it was blonde. I always told her I wanted to do it green, but never got to do it while she was alive. For me, I said might as well do it and really be able to express who I am. Being the heart and soul of the team and being the longest-tenured Boston Celtic, to be able to have some green hair in the Finals, I thought it was just perfect.”

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In a promotional video for the Tres Generaciones ad campaign, Smart said his formula for creativity is imagination and self-confidence. That combination is a large part of what makes him so different than any other NBA player. His creativity extends to the way he thinks about the game, sees the game, and how he throws his body around in full embrace the sport’s physicality.  

The formula for being a top defender, Smart said, comes down to focus, self-confidence, grit, and determination, especially given that the NBA’s rules have increasingly catered to big-time scoring.

“When you have somebody who’s determined, it’s really hard to stop them from whatever they’re trying to accomplish, and you have to be that determined playing defense,” he said. “You have to be willing to sacrifice your body for the betterment of the team and to get the win. It’s really tough on you. But that’s the challenging part and the fun part about it: figuring out a way to overcome that obstacle that’s put in front of you and doing it in a way that you see fit.”

Smart’s strategies for securing endorsement deals and investment opportunities are similar in nature. The former Oklahoma State Cowboys star described himself as a family-oriented, caring, sympathetic, and empathetic person, so an endorsement deal has to match what he feels is right on the inside for him. Oftentimes, the brands he gets behind tie him into these core values. When it comes to investing, meanwhile, it’s about finding who to trust while ensuring that he’s always learning more and more about what it takes to be successful within an ever-changing landscape.

On the first year of a four-year, $76.5 million contract extension, Smart said he didn’t splurge much aside from a house and a ring for his fiancée, to whom he proposed on Christmas Day 2022. After past years full of trade rumors, Smart is arguably more strongly rooted in the Boston area now than he ever has before — and in a city that calls itself Titletown, Smart knows that he doesn’t want to go down in the history books as someone who couldn’t win the big one.

“So, it’s a pressure, but you feel it’s an honorable pressure,” he said of the particular energy of New England sports. “You’re honored to be part of an organization in a city that knows what it takes and cares about winning and loves winning.”

Smart’s Celtics have already clinched a 2022-23 playoff spot, looking to defend their Eastern Conference title and book another Finals trip — it’s going to take Smart’s perseverance, creativity, and purpose, in order to ensure that this postseason run has a happy ending.

In the meantime, expect him to Get Up Tres while he gets up treys.

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