The Boston Celtics are set to take on the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. While the matchup in itself is destined to be a great one, the tension from the last time these two teams played one another has fans even more enthralled.
As a quick refresher, Smart accidentally landed on Curry while diving for a loose ball in the mid-March matchup. As a result, Curry suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle and missed the Warriors‘ last 12 games of the regular season.
Smart discussed the reality of the situation in a phone interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports ahead of the must-watch series, knowing Warriors fans will be out to get him:
“I'm used to it,” Smart told Yahoo Sports.” When am I not a target by fans, especially while going up against their favorite player? It’s always been like that. I know I’m not the league’s favorite, I know I’m not the fan favorite all the time and I know I’m not a lot of people’s favorite player. My whole life has been like that. I’ve always been the underdog…My team got my back, so I’m good.”
Smart acknowledged that “you're always going to be wrong when it comes to the Warriors and Steph,” at least when it comes to “certain people.” The Celtics guard then emphasized that Curry's injury was purely accidental, as he was making a basketball play. Smart even brought up Curry's reaction to what happened as evidence:
“Even Steph came out and said himself that he knows I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I’ve been playing in this league for eight years and not once have I not dove on the floor. So to expect me to do anything less because it was a regular season game is not me.”
Smart knows his role in the Celtics vs. Warriors series, which has been unwavering throughout his career in the NBA. According to Smart, he has never been everyone's favorite player. And now, matching up against Curry months after his injury, it puts an even bigger target on him as he tries to help Boston win a title.