Boston Celtics

Marcus Smart says Kyrie Irving was a 'great teammate' and leader, admits Boston Celtics were 'dysfunctional' last season

The Boston Celtics fell short of their lofty expectations last season, losing in the second round of the playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks, as reports surfaced of locker room tension throughout the season.

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In an appearance on ESPN's The Jump, Marcus Smart admitted as much, saying the Celtics were 'dysfunctional' last season, but everyone on the roster was to blame.

"Let's call a spade a spade, right? It's true. We were dysfunctional," Smart said. "It takes a lot for guys, and especially athletes, to own up to that and say, 'Yeah, things didn't go quite as how we wanted.' But we gotta look ourselves in the mirror (and ask) 'What did I do? What could I have done to help?'

"We all took part in it, we all could have done something better to help that team."

Coming off an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals the season prior, Brad Stevens had a tough time finding minutes for youngsters Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, while Gordon Hayward was less than 100 percent coming off a season-ending injury.

Despite the myriad of issues fitting all the pieces together, point guard Kyrie Irving was assigned most of the blame, with his leadership coming under question throughout the season, however, Smart shed light on the situation, explaining how much of a positive impact Irving had on him as a teammate.

"For me, personally - I can't speak for the other guys - but for me personally, Kyrie's a great teammate," Smart added. "I've had sit-downs with Kyrie where things for me probably wasn't going so well, where he was pulling me to the side and it wasn't even about basketball.

"Everybody knows what I went through with my mom, losing her and everything. Kyrie - one of the first guys to text me, call me. When I got back to Boston, [he] pulled me to the side, we sat down and we talked. As far as basketball, just helping me slow the game down and really recognise and understand the game even more.

"So as a teammate, I loved him for it. That leadership that he's been drawing and want people to show that he has - he had it, it was going...He's just misunderstood."

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