Smith is coming off an offseason in which surgery was performed on his left knee. It was also an offseason where he was still hearing criticism for his no-show performance during the Knicks’ second-round series last season and for his late-night adventures in the VIP. sections of some of New York City’s finest night clubs.
This five-game suspension levied by the NBA is symptomatic of the type of behavior Smith was supposed to have outgrown.
Last season, the praise showered upon J.R. Smith for his alleged new-found maturity echoed throughout the halls of Madison Square Garden with almost as much frequency as Spike Lee’s annual championship ramblings. His game had even begun to to mature as well, as Smith settled for fewer jump shots, preferring instead to attack the basket with more regularity late in the season.
But the Big Apple has a way of finding out whether or not you’re faking the funk, and will ultimately reveal you for exactly what you are — whatever and whoever that might be.
Is J.R. Smith a hardworking professional athlete or a disgraceful malcontent unworthy of his contract? Coach Mike Woodson and team captain Carmelo Anthony had each gone on record praising Smith. The first sign of the old Smith came during the Knicks’ first round series versus the Boston Celtics in which he elbowed guard Jason Terry in the head.
He was suspended a game for that transgression and didn’t perform to standard during the remainder of the playoffs. Then there were pictures published on the gossip sites in which he was seen turning a bottle of alcohol bottoms-up towards his mouth. Though it’s his life to live, the idea of the young, rich professional athlete living as a slave to their own excessive appetites permeate all pro sports.
A true professional is aware of that and should take precautions.
Is anyone truly surprised? The five games should be used as a reminder to Smith. He needs to know that the life of a professional athlete is not a right, but a privilege — a privilege that some would love to see taken away from him. Once the fraternal order of the NBA says you’re out, you’re out.
Ricardo Hazell is a freelance sports writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google.