Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart was the target of Golden State Warriors fans after his clash with Stephen Curry, which ended up with the two-time MVP sidelined with a sprained ligament. Now, there is a debate among fans and analysts if what Smart did was a basketball play or a dirty one. Ex-NBA player Eddie House defended Smart and also offered an alternative take.
In defense of Smart, House looked back on his experience during his playing days. In his mind, it's common sense for a player to do everything he can for his team. If it involves putting his body on the line, so be it. With that said, House believes that Smart was just making the proper basketball play. So it was unfortunate that Curry got hurt.
"I feel the same way I felt (Wednesday). The fact of the matter is (Smart) got on the floor first. If there's a loose ball, you've got to get your body on the ground to get after it. If you don't, things can happen to you. It's not somebody maliciously trying to take out your legs. We've seen it before where someone has gone to the floor and it looks like someone went after a player's legs -- that play from Marcus Smart did not look like that at all. It didn't resemble that in any way. He went for the ball. He was first to the ball -- exactly what you want if you're a coach, or a teammate. It's exactly what you want if you're Marcus Smart. I want to be first to the ball, that's why I'm going to the ground," House said, per NBC Sports.
Though House didn't become infamous for becoming a "dirty" player, the guard has had his share of rough scuffles during his playing days. A clip below featuring him and NBA icon Allen Iverson reveals House immediately calming the 76ers guard down after a rough play. House was just trying to prevent the easy two points by swatting the ball down.
House took things up a notch by imaging a different scenario. He believes that if the play did not involve a player of Stephen Curry's caliber, then there would not be any discussion. Smart would not be slammed by critics and Warriors fans.
"Steph's foot/ankle was collateral damage. What can you do? As a competitor, I'm trying to win. Sometimes guys get injured in the midst of guys competing. Smart shouldn't feel any kind of way. The Celtics shouldn't feel any kind of way. Actually, everyone is making this such a huge deal because it is Steph who got hurt. If that's Damion Lee, would we be having this same conversation? Probably not," House said.
It may seem that House is dissing Lee as if he's implying that he's not a critical piece of the Warriors' success so far. House sounds like he's disregarding the work Lee put in to be where he is right now. But this is not the case. House simply points out how some players get more media mileage than others. Lee is a good player in his own right, but he is not the all-time leading 3-point shooter in the NBA. He is also not the first unanimous MVP in history.
Perhaps House wants all NBA players to be treated equally, even though that is almost impossible. This way, we can watch the game from an objective standpoint. Dirty plays will be called dirty plays, and Hard fouls will be called hard fouls. Egos and superstar tags are thrown out the window.