J.R. Smith can be a very polarizing player among fans. He is passionate, charismatic, hardworking and of course, inconsistent. This inconsistency can drive New York Knicks fans crazy, but this is a sacrifice for what he truly brings to the team.
Quite simply, Smith would have been a great fit on the 1994 Knicks team that was one game away from a championship. That 1994 team was not necessarily the most talented, but they found ways to win games and grab the hearts of fans.
They did a lot of things on the court that did not appear on stat sheets. Any Knicks fan that was rooting for the team in 1994 undoubtedly still has the images in their head of Charles Oakley and John Starks diving everywhere for loose balls.
Fans at Madison Square Garden root for Smith in the same fashion they rooted for Oakley and Starks. There is a reason for this. New York fans, being among the most intelligent basketball fans in the world, appreciate effort, grit, and determination. Of course, Smith has also had his share of game-winning shots, and the fans do indeed appreciate clutch play. Not to mention, he can play some pretty tough defense.
Has Smith taken too many poor shots? Of course he has. Has he made some absurd mistakes on the court? He has had many. These types of actions can make Knicks fans scratch their heads in disbelief.
Despite this, they will ultimately start rooting for him again and push for him to make that next shot. This may be true for any player, but it is especially true for players like Smith. Although many of us may be hesitant to admit it, he is worth every penny. Any team would be lucky to have him next year. Hopefully, it will still be the Knicks.