BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The NBA playoffs have only just begun, but the Celtics are already bringing home some hardware.
Marcus Smart won the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award for the 2021-22 season after spending the season quarterbacking the league's best defense, with a team defensive rating of 106.2. He had previously made the NBA All-Defensive team two times prior to winning this award.
Smart is the second Celtics player to win the award since it was created in 1982—Kevin Garnett won the award in the 2007-08 season. With this win, Smart also became the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton won it for the 1995-96 season.
The Celtics surprised Smart with an announcement during the team's practice Monday and even had Payton present him with the award.
Smart said he was happy to show that guards can win the award.
"Most guards, we've been working, and that's just how us guards feel," Smart said. "To be able to be named Defensive Player of the Year and to be the first guard since Gary Payton to win this, it just shows not only me but everyone else that it can be done."
He then dedicated the award to his mother, who passed away from cancer in 2018.
“She’s still here in spirit looking down on me," he said. "She helped me continue to strive and actually win this award.”
After winning the award, multiple of Smart's teammates posted on Twitter congratulating him on the win.
Smart beat out finalist Mikal Bridges and three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert for the award. His teammates Robert Williams and Al Horford also got votes for the award.
The Celtics are back in action Wednesday, April 20 for Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets.
WBZ's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports.