I think I’ve completely talked myself into rooting for Cleveland on the sole basis of wanting to see JR Smith win a title. And amazingly enough, it’s for much more than wanting to see how hard he goes after they win.
God love JR Smith man. Couldn’t be happier for the dude. For as easy as it is to hate most of that Cavaliers roster, I could never harbor any ill feelings against The Pipe. In fact, I’ve almost completely talked myself into rooting for Cleveland on the sole basis of wanting to see JR win a title.
But the crazy thing is… it’s not just in the “oh my god imagine how hard JR is gonna party” sense. I mean, don’t get me wrong… that will be incredible. But honestly, I genuinely just want the guy to succeed. He’s gone through 10 years of turmoil. Never found the right team. Never found the right coach. Never found the right role. And he we are, in year 11, and he’s found the perfect niche.
Now, yes, part of that is on him. I’ll admit that and I bet he would too. But in his defense, where exactly was he supposed to succeed. New Orleans? Denver? The inextinguishable dumpster fire that is the New York Knicks? The reality of the NBA is that only a handful of guys can thrive in any situation. The other 98% of the league is looking for the right fit – and very few, if any, could have found that fit in New Orleans, Denver, or fucking New York.
Which brings me back to the 2K joke… because while JR was probably just messing around, there’s actually some truth to it.
You know when people say “that’s the type of shit that you can only do in video games”? Well… JR can actually do those things. Because for all the jokes and all the stories and all the clown shit that JR Smith does, we forget that he’s arguably one of the ten to fifteen most naturally gifted players in the NBA. He’s an elite athlete with elite handles. He can get a shot up against any defender in the league and, when engaged, defend almost anyone in the league on the perimeter. He’s one of, what, maybe three guys in the league who could legitimately win both a Slam Dunk Contest and a Three Point Contest. This is a guy with as much all-around natural basketball talent as anyone outside of the guy next to him on the podium. He’s just… you know… he’s JR.
So yeah… I bet he did learn a bunch of shit from 2K. Why? Because he’s one of a handful of guys who actually can do those things? He can get off a fadeaway three and hit it. He can dunk from an outrageous angle and make it look natural. He can make a three-sixty layup in the middle of a real game. And if you press the wrong button, he will take a shot from anywhere on the court.
And while we’re here, I just want to compound on that “right situation” point from above.
Most players have a handful of teams and situations that make sense for them. Maybe they’d fit on seven or eight teams, maybe they’d fit on two or three. JR just had one. And it’s here in Cleveland. I think this role, as the super-gunner, “ultra-green light”…
…”play great defense on the other end and we’ll give you all the shots you want” 4th option on a Lebron team was the only role for JR to really succeed in going forward. And I also think there isn’t another player in the league that could fill this role. You’re just not going to find someone with that much natural talent who is okay being the 4th banana, and who can fill that role so perfectly.
JR found his basketball destiny. And that’s enough reason for me to want to see him win a title.
Okay that, and seeing him butt-funnel champagne at Onyx the night of the title. That too.