We all know that New York Knicks guard and newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith was suspended for Game 4 of his team’s opening round playoff matchup with the rival Boston Celtics, but that should not have happened at all.
For those unaware, Smith was suspended after receiving a Flagrant Foul 2 after elbowing Celtics guard Jason Terry in the face during the fourth quarter of New York’s 90-76 victory in Game 3. Smith was immediately ejected, and Terry had to be restrained by teammates upon getting up.
But let’s take another look at the video.
Did Smith really deserve to be banished both from the game and be forced by the NBA to miss the next one, which could have ended in the Knicks pulling off a first round sweep?
The answer to that question is no, and here’s why.
Just take a look at Smith and Terry in the video. Smith has the ball, and Terry is playing some decent on-ball defense on him. Suddenly, Smith pivots, which forces him to move his arm. Of course, Terry gets in the way and is struck in the face.
After viewing the play in slow motion several times, it’s hard to believe that Smith’s actions were intentional. Yes, he got off the court in a hurry, but his team was up by 19 points at the time. There was no reason to make a scene in pleading his case and possibly earning himself a longer suspension.
The elbow was merely incidental contact if you ask me, but that’s not what bothers me most about the suspension. What really grinds my gears is that it is crystal clear that Terry also flopped after getting hit, but there was little to no discussion of it.
Anyone out there ever receive an elbow to the face? It HURTS. You go down, and you stay down for an extended period of time. Terry, on the other hand, popped right back up and was ready to potentially fight.
That all being said, it’s not like what Smith did was reminiscent of Metta World Peace elbowing James Harden, where there was a clear intent to injure. This was merely an accident and for some reason or another, Smith wound up with a suspension that he never should have received to begin with.