NBA Champion Sounds Off on NBA Over ‘Blackballed’ Former Nets All-Star

Joe Johnson and Deron Williams

Getty oe Johnson #7 and Deron Williams #8 of the Brooklyn Nets

JR Smith has gone viral over the last year for going back to school. After his 17-year NBA career the NBA Championship-winning guard enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, where he is a member of the school’s golf team. The guard never went to college after he was one of the last NBA players to be drafted directly out of high school. Smith registered a 4.0 GPA in his first semester and won the school’s Academic Athlete of the Year award. 

Fans have loved watching the stars transition into being a student-athlete, and it has brought multiple viral moments. However, Smith recently had another viral moment in an interview that he did with Complex. As part of the interview, Smith was asked if he believes he had been “blackballed” from playing in the NBA. 

Smith believes that not only he is being blackballed, but also named two former Nets stars Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford are too.

JR Smith on Being ‘Blackballed’ from the NBA

Smith answered the question about being blackballed immediately and called it a fact that he had been blackballed. 

“Yeah, 100%,” Smith said. “I mean, anybody can sit here and tell you that that’s and that’s a fact.”

The championship-winning shooting guard stated that if you look at other NBA rosters and players, the fourth through fifteenth best players on current NBA squads that he is better than them. He also cites playing with them in workouts and conversations with GM’s as another reason he believes that fact. 

“You got those 30 teams,” he said. “You got the Top 3 people on those 30 teams and exclude them. Give me the (No.) 4 through 15th men, just the four through 15. Name one of them that’s better than me. But I’m sitting here like, bro, like, I’ve worked out with these dudes. I’ve watched their GM come up to me and ask me, ‘J.R., why you not playing?’ You know why I’m not playing.”

Other ‘Blackballed’ NBA Stars

Smith even went on to name other players he believes have been ‘blackballed’ in the NBA. 

“I feel like there is a whole genre that happened to,” he said. “Joe Johnson, obviously, still got game, can still play. Jamal Crawford, still got game, still can play. Nick Young, still got game, still could play. Isaiah Thomas, still got game, still can play.”

Not only does Smith believe he is being kept from the league, but Crawford, Young, and Isaiah Thomas all have things to contribute to an NBA roster but are being kept from playing. 

It is important to note that each of these players besides Thomas are older veterans and weren’t contributing the same way they used to. Thomas is currently an NBA free agent and is expected to sign somewhere before the start of the season. Johnson appeared last year in a game for the Boston Celtics when the team was without players due to COVID protocol. The last time we saw Nick Young was in the 2018-19 season, where he played four games for the Denver Nuggets. 

Smith and each player he named could still likely contribute in some way to an NBA franchise. However, teams often start trying to develop young talent rather than use that roster spot on an older veteran who is on his way out of the league. 

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