Is Marcus Smart growing up right before our eyes?

Marcus Smart orchestrating the offense for Team USA. Photo courtesy of Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Earlier this week the media caught up with Team USA’s head basketball coach, Gregg Popovich, to provide an update on Marcus Smart’s injury progression.

Pop explained Smart as “day-to-day” at this point, which means we’re likely getting closer to seeing Smart back on the basketball court. “Probably won’t practice the next couple of days I wouldn’t think,” Popovich added.

Not exactly earth-shattering news here, but I wanted to bring up a quote from last week that John Karalis of Mass Live re-pointed out in a recent short piece on the Marcus injury update.

"Last year, or two or three years ago, I probably would have still been out there trying to fight through it. It’s nothing serious so we just want to make sure it doesn’t turn into anything serious.” - Marcus Smart initially after his injury

What sticks out here is that Smart is growing up a bit. As he mentioned, he would’ve pushed through the injury in previous years. Not only is it the right decision to take precautions in the off-season, but he is showing real leadership qualities with his decision.

Marcus’ fans love his tenacity on the court and his will to tough-it-out through injury, but he realizes his value is to be a healthy basketball player for the marathon that is ahead of him and the Boston Celtics.

Marcus Smart is the longest tenured Celtic. Although he does not necessarily light up the stat sheet on a nightly basis, he remains one of the most important players for the Celtics. He is a leader in the locker room and on the court. His effort and knack for a clutch play are why Celtics fans have fallen in love.

He is no longer considered a young player as he’s entering his sixth NBA season. And on a team full of a lot of players still looking to establish themselves in the league and for Team USA, Marcus is flexing his leadership on Team USA as well. After an underwhelming performance in a scrimmage against G-Leaguers and other overseas players, Marcus was upfront in calling out his teammates.

A piece of me is hoping Smart is able to get healthy enough to make the squad and contribute to Team USA. If not for anything else, it’ll give the rest of the nation a glimpse into what Celtics fans get to watch on a night-in night-out basis.