A Self Aware J.R. Smith Knows They’re Letting LeBron Down

    Cleveland Cavs veteran guard JR Smith is the luckiest basketball player on earth. 

    Since his days with the Knicks when he chose to hang with Rihanna after Game 2 of a playoff series in which his shooting was god awful, to his other youthful indiscretions, Smith has been getting more passes than Jerry Rice in a Super Bowl.

    His luck somehow took him from being the immature and unfocused co-star of a struggling Knicks team led by Carmelo Anthony to the Cleveland Cavs and a 2016 NBA championship. It’s been a while since Smith’s done anything remarkable on the basketball court and nobody seems to really care. But with LeBron down 0-2 to the Celtics and at serious risk of missing his first NBA Finals in seven years, the narrative has shifted in a direction that is very critical of LeBron’s supporting cast. 

    JR Smith fails

    JR Smith fails. None of the following videos or clips belong to this channel. Song – Everyday I’m Hustlin

    The light of culpability is shining intensely on players such as JR Smith who have been unable to produce as they have in the past. Smith knows that he is slipping and hes trying to help Cleveland turn this Eastern Conference series against the Boston Celtics around. 

    “We have to ramp it up,” Smith said, according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin. “We’re playing too slow. We’re making Bron play hero ball, which is tough to do, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals. We got to help him. With that said, we have to give him an opportunity to make him feel confident to give us the ball so we can make the right plays. We got to help him and he’s got to help us.”

    Through two games against the Boston Celtics, James has been Cleveland’s most productive player by a significant margin. 

    In 37.4 minutes per game, Bron is averaging 28.5 points, 10.5 assists, and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. The only other Cavaliers player who’s played in both Eastern Conference Finals games and registered at least 10 points a night is Kevin Love (19.5 PPG). 

    Smith, meanwhile, has scored four points on 2-of-16 shooting (0-of-7 from three) to this point in the series. His shooting ineffectiveness is reflective of the entire Cavs team who have shot 14-of-57 from beyond the arc so far this series.

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    J.R. has 0 points in 23 minutes…

    The deterioration of Smiths hoops game over the past few years has been masked by the brilliance of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Smith hasnt had to do much more than check some opposing scorers and hit a bucket here and there, since joining Cleveland. 

    Though only 32 years of age, Smith played high school hoops at New Jersey basketball powerhouse Saint Benedicts Prep in Newark and entered the NBA as a 19-year-old straight out of high school after being chosen in the first round of the 2004 Draft with the 18th overall pick by the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans). 

    Playing a decade and a half in the NBA wears on your body and theres no proof to refute the assumption that Smith did anything but party like an animal and get buckets during his NBA lifespan which is reaching capacity. 

    Rihanna reportedly had a brief fling with Smith, told us how Smith got down back in 2013 when she unleashed an Instagram rant alleging Smith was struggling in the playoffs because he was hungover from clubbing all night, every night. 

    Stephen A. goes off: JR Smith has had an ‘absolutely pathetic, horrific season’ | First Take | ESPN

    First Take’s Stephen A. Smith goes off, saying that JR Smith has has an “absolutely pathetic, horrific season.”

    JR used to be athletic, as well as a guy who could get to the bucket and drain the long-range bomb. Smith could always score. His 16.7 points per game career average in 16 years in the league tell you that. 

    His 10.6 pointers per game average the past two seasons tell another story. Though some years removed from his wild days, Smith, who is now married with children, cant shake the demons of his fast-living past. 

    In other words, Smith isnt dogging it. No matter how much Stephen A Smith implores him to step up and help Lebron, JR is just washed up. Its that simple. 

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.