It worked with Pierce, Bird, Havlicek, Russell and Cousy. How about Marcus Smart?
Check out the list of long-tenured Celtics captains with six or more years in command – Bob Cousy (13), Bill Russell (6), John Havlicek (10), Larry Bird (13) and Paul Pierce (10). Between Bird and Pierce, we saw various combinations of Rajon Rondo, Antoine Walker, Dee Brown, Pervis Ellison (yes, that’s correct), Rick Fox, Dominique Wilkins, Robert Parish and Reggie Lewis.
Coach Brad Stevens tells us that his no-captain stance exists, at least in part, because he wants every player to be empowered. My belief is that he has also felt that no single team member was capable of taking on that role. That may have been the case in the post-Larry era when we saw co-captains and even one case of tri-captains in the 1997-98 season when “Never Nervous” Purvis, Dee Brown and Antoine Walker shared the responsibility. Our own Danny Ainge had a new moniker for the oft-injured Pervis when they were teammates on the Sacramento Kings:
This is far from the first time I have broached this. Marcus Smart is about to enter his sixth NBA season at the age of 25. His game, anger control and leadership have all improved over time. Those that might argue that he remains too much of a hot head should realize that former team captains Larry Bird and Dave Cowens (1978-80) tended to be quite fiery.
Let’s face it – the Celtics top two players last season, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, just didn’t have the stuff of leadership. Kyrie was too vocal, with his words often expelled with a bit of venom. Al seemed to keep his feelings to himself. Marcus just seems to have the ability to speak up with the proper control and demeanor. I believe he would take on the role of captain if it is offered. I believe it is time.
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Image via San Bernardino County Sun