It’s been a while since JR Smith last played an NBA game but he now finds himself as a member of the championship contender Los Angeles Lakers. Smith is known to be a sharpshooter, but he thinks he can bring more to the Lakers than just that. He spent a big chunk of his career playing with LeBron James and he believes he won’t hesitate to put the superstar in check if he needs to.
Speaking to the media for the first time since joining the Lakers, Smith had some strong words for James.
“It’s kind of illuminating for a lot of those people who don’t know how to challenge authority in that ‘situation.’ But that’s something I’ve never really had a problem with,” Smith said.
James is the unquestioned leader of the team and is still arguably the best player in the NBA. However, even the best players need to be knocked down a peg or two from time to time. Smith and James won a championship together as key members of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Perhaps the two help bring out the best in each other. Smith wasn’t done talking about James.
“I know how ‘Bron can get pissed and people are not gonna know how to deal with it. So it gives that gap of understanding,” Smith said.
“Because as we’ve all seen in the MJ doc … he was so hard on his teammates and stuff like that. But we got a case like LeBron, it’s different,” Smith said, “because obviously he does everything he wants to do to win, and everything else. It kind of comes off in the wrong way sometimes. And you need that bridge as a player to be posted to the next player, like ‘Hey look man, it’s nothing personal.’”
Smith Talks About Potential Future With Lakers
The Lakers only gave Smith a contract to finish up this current season but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a future with the team. He’s 34, which is older for an NBA player, but he could still have a couple of years of productivity left in the tank. Smith isn’t trying to think too hard past his current situation.
“For me, I just take it a day at a time,” Smith said about potentially playing with the Lakers next season. “Literally, a breath at a time because I’ve been out for a while and being around and being in an environment is so refreshing and much needed, so I try not to focus on that part. I try to take it day by day and enjoy the moment as much as I can because, at the end of the day, I was just gone for a while.
“For being somebody who has been around the league for predominantly most of their adult life, when that’s taken away from you, it kind of gives you that culture shock, which you obviously don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone. So for me, more than anything, I just want to appreciate the moment for what it is, and whether it be next year or never again, I just want to enjoy every possible moment I get.”
If Smith comes in and is a solid addition for the purple and gold, it’s hard to imagine they won’t give him another shot next season.
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Smith Was Depressed Before Lakers Signing
Smith had the misfortune of being the author of one of the most boneheaded plays in NBA Finals history two years ago when he tried to call a timeout at the end of the game when Cleveland didn’t have any left. He’s only played in 11 games since then and had trouble finding a team to sign him.
Smith wasn’t in a good spot before the Lakers finally gave him a shot.
“Yeah, I went through a very depressed state for a long time,” Smith said. “It lasted for a few months. I’m a big gamer, and I didn’t even want to play 2K anymore. I don’t want to hoop. I don’t want to work out. I don’t want to play 2K. I don’t want to do anything with basketball. It was like a depression because for something that I loved and enjoyed for so long from my aspect of going from playing at the highest level, especially when you feel as though your career is not over and still premature.
“It was tough. It was extremely tough, but fortunately, I have a great foundation with my parents. My dad has always been on me about what I accomplished and what I still have left in the tank and stuff like that, so, fortunately, if it wasn’t for them, I would probably still be in that situation.”
Regardless of the past, Smith will have his chance to redeem himself on a championship-caliber team. If he helps bring the Lakers a title, a lot of people will forget about his 2018 blunder.