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Marcus Smart giving what he can to fight pandemic

Marcus Smart understands many of the risks of the NBA's restart as he tested positive for coronavirus in March.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late March, said he has since tested positive for antibodies and has donated his plasma to the American Red Cross.

Smart said he made one donation and plans to make another after the Celtics finish this season.

“It was a very humbling experience just to know that somewhere someone in this world is going to take my plasma, and it could possibly help them and save their lives or give them a fighting chance,” Smart said Tuesday. “That was a great experience to be a part of.”

The Celtics were tested as a team in March because they’d played against the Jazz just five days before Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus after showing symptoms, leading to the shuttering of the NBA.


Smart was the only Boston player to test positive. Although he never experienced any symptoms, he understands that so many others have been less fortunate.

“It could have been me that was affected differently,” Smart said. “I could have been symptomatic. I could have had symptoms and I could have been in certain positions that certain people were. So it really scared me, because no one really knows the extent of this virus. No one really knows exactly what to do.”

Smart, 26, said he does have some concerns about his long-term health, simply because it’s too early to know if there are lasting effects of the coronavirus.

He acknowledged that he was a bit skeptical when he first received the call informing him that he had tested positive, mostly because he felt fine. But he hopes that when the NBA resumes its season in Orlando this month, everyone there will take this pandemic quite seriously.

“At my age group, we feel a little bit of invincibility where we’re young and we feel like we are in the best shape of our lives and nothing can happen to us,” Smart said. “That’s the scary part, because all it takes is one guy to really open everyone else’s eyes. You don’t want it to even get there. You want to try to prevent that.


“Us older guys, and especially guys who have had COVID, like me, really [emphasize] to take it as serious as possible, because once again, you don’t know.”

Calling for ownership

Smart and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said that they plan to use their platforms in Orlando to advance social justice causes. But Smart took the initiative a step farther and called upon team owners to do more to make their voices heard.

“We have to have people in the higher places that people will listen to make a stand, guys with a higher voice than just NBA players,” Smart said. “We have to get the owners to talk about it. We have to get the owners and their constituents to talk about it.

“These are guys who are billion-dollar people. They have a big influence. And those are the voices that need to be heard, because those are the ones that are going to get an even broader audience to listen, and an audience that needs to listen right now.”

Weighing the options

Tatum said that he was considering opting out of the NBA’s restart as recently as a few days ago. He said he had worries about how the pandemic is surging through Florida, he worried the Black Lives Matter movement could get pushed to the side, and he was reluctant to leave his 2-year-old son for an extended period.


Tatum is in line to receive a maximum rookie-scale extension this fall, and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who was in Tatum’s draft class, has expressed concerns about players being injured in Orlando prior to receiving their new deals.

“I knew that if I didn’t play without people hearing why I wasn’t going to play, I knew they would assume I didn’t want to play because I didn’t want to risk losing out on that contract,” Tatum said. “And that would be insensitive, especially during this time when so many people have to file for unemployment, for me to be worried about X amount of dollars. So that didn’t have anything to do or sway if I was going to play or not. For me, the main concern was just being away from my son.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.