In 16 NBA seasons, Lakers guard J.R. Smith has been with five teams, creating a sizable pool of former teammates, numbering in the hundreds, to be sure. But during that time, Smith said he has gotten along with everyone who has shared his uniform—with one notable exception.
That exception: forward Sam Dekker, the former Wisconsin star who briefly joined with Smith in Cleveland at the opening of the 2018-19 season before he was dealt away in December of 2018. Dekker played only nine games with the Cavaliers but apparently left a pretty big mark on Smith’s psyche.
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Speaking on All Things Covered, an online show hosted by former NFL cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden, Smith talked about his sour relationship during his short-lived tenure with Dekker.
“Throughout my whole career, it’s only one teammate I really don’t like and that person, he know that. And everybody else, I’m just cool with, you know what I’m saying?” Smith said before being asked who the teammate was. “Oh, man, this dude Sam Dekker, dog. I can’t, this dude. He did some bullsh** on the bus one day, talking some [Donald] Trump sh**, and I just wasn’t having it.”
Dekker, for what it’s worth, was traded to Washington after two months in Cleveland and could not find a place in the league after playing in 38 games with the Wizards. The 18th pick in the 2015 draft, he is currently playing in Turkey.
J.R. Smith on Sam Dekker: ‘It’s the Hate You Give’
Smith did not get specific on his conversations with Dekker, but he did suggest that Dekker was being deliberately discriminatory based on race. Dekker, who is white, had a hard time empathizing with those different from him, according to Smith. Smith further elaborated:
For sure, because, the question he asked, it’s a thought pattern. You’re taught that. It’s not like, it’s the hate you give. And I feel like it’s something you’re taught. It’s not, the privilege he has was taught to him, and he took heed of it and ran with it even further than somebody who was not, who was oblivious to what they have and the life they live. Because some people just go through their life not necessarily knowing, but not aware and privy to somebody else’s circumstances. He’s a person who’s just very aware of somebody else’s circumstances and wants to keep them there, as opposed to try to help him elevate up. And I don’t respect anything about that.
J.R. Smith’s NBA Future Remains Murky
Smith, of course, could soon be heading to international shores to keep his career going. He squeaked into the league this season only because the Lakers were desperate for guard help in June after starter Avery Bradley opted to sit out the NBA’s restart in Orlando. L.A. signed Smith, who had worked out as he competed for a roster spot in March, to fill Bradley’s void.
It did not work out so well for Smith or for the Lakers. He appeared in six games for the Lakers during the restart, scoring 2.8 points per game, making 31.8% of his field-goal attempts and only 9.1% of his 3-pointers. He played 10 postseason games, averaging 2.0 points on 26.9% shooting.