In Defense Of | JR Smith

June 2, 2018




Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake is a former WWE wrestler who walks to the ring with a pair of scissors and uses the sleeper hold as his finisher.


He’s also known as Hulk Hogan’s best friend. In some instances, it feels as if he’s more of a valet. If Hulk Hogan gets a WCW gig, then Barber would follow. Hulk Hogan gets to star in a movie? Expect Brutus to have a cameo. It’s like Hulk Hogan can’t do anything without Beefcake around.


This leads us to JR Smith.


At 32, it will be hard for Smith to latch on another sure-ball Hall of Famer. More than a decade ago, Smith and Carmelo Anthony formed an elite scoring unit. Their partnership went from Denver to New York. Then JR Smith moved to Cleveland to hook up with Lebron James.


I guess in some ways, Dwyane Wade needed to go back to Miami because it overlapped with Smith’s character.


I am here to defend JR Smith.




I am a Boston Celtics fan and while the Cavs prevailed over my Beantown, the only stake I need to have in this duel is the potential record of Jordan Clarkson to become the “first Filipino player to make the NBA Finals that also had a Heineken commercial and that had the privy of teaming up with both Lebron James and Kobe Bryant”.








So yeah, stop insulting JR Smith.


I was rooting for the Orlando Magic went they took on the Houston Rockets. I remember Nick Anderson missing four free throws that preceded Houston’s NBA Finals sweep. Anderson is a good player… and he was never the same after missing those attempts. Darko Milicic suffered the same torment as the player picked ahead of Anthony, Wade, and Chris Bosh. And just recently, Shaquille O’Neal had to apologize to Javale McGee’s mother for overbullying his son on live television.


Now I know Smith has this reputation of being uhurm… braindead… but are we this harsh to hope and pray that Smith will play with a whole ton of reservations until retirement?


I know this is passé… but I kind of blame Lebron James here.


Since entering the league in 2003, LBJ is the picture of perfection. It’s easy to compare James with Michael Jordan because of the individual and team accolades.


But here’s the difference between James and Jordan.


Jordan has the tendency to make his teammates look good. Meanwhile, James has the tendency to do otherwise. I know you don’t believe me because Jordan had Ron Harper turn from offensive powerhouse into a defensive specialist… but he was able to make said player relevant. Steve Kerr is at best, a 7-point scorer with a good arm on the outside and yet, we view him up to this day as one of the best streak shooters in league history even if we also have the likes of Mark F’N Price. Luc Longley’s Chicago numbers were basically like his Minnesota numbers but because he was paired with Jordan, his star was shinier. Andrew Gaze is a more popular Boomer but because of the attention, he’s even more popular than a lot of current Australian players in the NBA. And how can we forget that under Jordan’s watch, Horace Grant and BJ Armstrong became All-Stars.


Hell, one would even think that Scottie Pippen wouldn’t have had a successful NBA career if he wasn’t traded by Seattle for the rights of Olden Polynice.


As for Lebron James? Well, he is pretty much responsible for the firings of Keith Smart, Paul Silas, Brendan Malone, Mike Brown, and David Blatt. All coaches were unable to keep their spots because they couldn’t satisfy the needs of The King. Either their rosters are garbage, management placed little faith in them, or simply put… Lebron inserted his superstar card on the owner’s cranium to override a coach’s coaching ability. Tyronn Lue could be next, with the current Cavs coach taking extended periods of rest due to stress. Chris Bosh’s superstar status took a hit when The Big Three came into the fray but Kevin Love had it worse.


Which brings us back to JR Smith.


It may be Smith… or perhaps George Hill… but I guess the jig is up on whether or not James is a perfectionist. James IS a perfectionist… and he’s the type to stress his peeps down to the point of rendering them soulless. Meanwhile, Smith is the yardstick of imperfection. When he was in Denver, George Karl designed a play for either Anthony or Allen Iverson and all of a sudden, he decided to go Leroy Jenkins with the matter and goes off direction. If you saw Smith acting all confused in that Game 1 play, looking at everyone as if he’s a lost kid, and on the verge of shitting his pants up until that fateful offensive rebound… it’s probably because he didn’t expect to stay in the free throw stripe to fight for the rebound. Where are Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Jeff Green, and even Kendrick Perkins for that matter? Why is a career 3.0rpg player attempting to box out Kevin Durant?


And why are his pleas for naught?


It’s probably because the rest of the Cavaliers are mindless robots?


Or perhaps they thought JR Smith could pull through?  


In a team of has-beens, playoff virgins, and… goofballs, Lebron James is the only one that matters. In some ways, I think this is the reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for this long. Their play is, without exaggeration, getting to ball the Lebron and hope they make the shot the moment he passes back.


James will not say this in front of the reporters, but his presence alone is enough to send his team to the finals… and for his teammates to go mental. And this is why James will never leave the Eastern Conference. He will find a way to win in the East… even with his team’s imperfections and the only way he’ll veer from this stance is if Adam Silver decides to destroy the longstanding playoff format.


With all the chaos that surrounded that fateful four seconds, Lue could have called a timeout to calm his troops, get the best players to anticipate a potential miss or a fast break, and give Lebron a couple of tips on not standing in the three point line as the rest of the players scramble for the ball.


And yet he didn’t.


I don’t want to bash JR Smith anymore.


Somewhere down the line, this moment would torment the hell out of the former slam dunk contestant for the rest of time. And if you think about it, given his age, it would be hard for JR Smith to act all “Brutus the Barber Beefcake” with his career. I can’t see Smith playing second banana to James Harden. I don’t know if he’s going to fit as Kristaps Porzingis’ chief scoring assistant. I don’t even believe he’s going to change his ways if he moves to Atlanta.


Remember what I said a while back when I said the Wade trade needed to happen to appease the character of JR Smith? Lebron James could have asked for Wade to stay but instead he just bid his buddy adieu without the promise of a championship. If Wade was in the position of Smith, his championship-driven mentality would relish at the sight of a loose ball in the dying seconds of a make-or-break game.  


I know it’s hard to pin the blame on Lebron – who poured blood, sweat, and tears just to send Cleveland to their playoff ride. He had 51 points in 51 minutes and he single-handedly powered his team against Indiana, Toronto, and Boston. And you know what; I still believe that the whole “underdog” crap is bullshit because this is exactly what James wants. This is a chance to prove to the critics that even in this kind of situation, LBJ can still revel in the spotlight. The Golden State Warriors have this tendency to underestimate their opponents as seen against Houston. If there's is a time to tell the critics that he is better than Michael Jordan, then this is the perfect opportunity to do so. 


Moreover, James is used to get all the flak. From being a choker, to becoming a villain, to over-relying on his superstar teammates, and even sinking an up and riser like Kyrie Irving, James is that good of a player to withstand the hate to eventually bounce back.


But I doubt if Smith can handle the pressure. When asked about that play, Smith made a bogus statement that he knew the game was tied and he was looking for Lebron. So if he couldn’t find Lebron after his initial dribbling phase, then why didn’t he sued for time or just give the pass to Lebron? James walked out on the reporters because if he said another quotable statement, then Smith could read it and he will have his confidence dip down to minus 1000 without any chance to redeem himself.


The series have potentially… six more games to go.  


And James needs Smith in doable condition.


Especially if he is anticipating the return of Andre Igoudala.


James surrounded himself with yes men and ultimately they failed on him. But like I said, I believe this is what we’re going to expect in this series. Cleveland will feed Lebron the ball and Lebron will send the ball to his teammates every time he gets the strong defensive coverage. He could have looked for his shot but instead passed it on an open Hill with a one-legged Klay Thompson defending him. 


So especially if you want Cleveland to win... and have Jordan Clarkson that accolade... you people need to stop dissing on JR Smith. 


Get Sydrified.









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