If you are remotely familiar with the NBA, you're probably well aware that JR Smith falls under the "knucklehad" category. That's only a partial knock on his play; when JR is on, he's on, but he doesn't always know if he's on. Either way, he play doesn't change much, which was great during the regular season — he claimed Sixth Man of the Year — but in the playoffs, his black-hole shooting killed New York in their series loss to the Indiana Pacers.
But JR's reputation is really earned off the court. The night before a playoff game, Smith was photographed at a club with Rihanna. He'll miss the first few games of this season after testing positive for marijuana.
Are these big problems? No, not really. Not for normal human beings. But NBA players don't have normal careers nor lifestyles, so while I can show up for work with a slight hangover (which I never, ever do, certainly not this morning), it's a bit of a problem when JR Smith does since he needs to be at his peak physically to play well. In general, though, he behavior is more indicative of someone who isn't completely committed, deep down at his core.
You'd never see Floyd Mayweather pull a stunt like that before a big fight. You wouldn't see Kobe do it either. And that is what Carmelo Anthony stressed to his teammate during their heart-to-heart.
“I had a heart-to-heart with him,” Anthony said Thursday at the Tools for Teachers Initiative in Brooklyn, an event involving his foundation and a real estate development company where school supplies were distributed to over 100 teachers from all five boroughs. “I had a talk that two men should have. We had that conversation. It seemed like he took heed to what I was saying, so we shall see….
“The time is now,” Anthony said. “You’ve got to want to help yourself. Everybody else wants to help you, but if you don’t want to help yourself, then that’s defeating the purpose.”
Carmelo talking with Smith is nothing to gloss over, either. They've been teammates for a long time, including their time with the Denver Nuggets. That's a big leadership move for Melo, especially to have that conversation with someone he likely regards as a friend.
We'll see if Smith saw it the same way. If he did, we might see less of a black hole, and more of a black mamba.