J.R. Smith essentially quit on the New York Knicks by 2014. Off the court, he was “exhibiting some delinquent behavior” and skipping team meetings. On the court, he began untied opposing players’ shoes, hit them in the groin, and pulled down their headbands. And when he was finally dumped on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Smith admitted his first thought was, “There’s going to be nowhere to party.”
So, it comes as a surprise that Smith, of all NBA players, took issue with Tracy McGrady’s comments from over the weekend: “Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.” The Cavs guard went so far as to call McGrady’s opinion “dumb as hell” in a three-tweet response.
This man really said "anyone can win a ring but not everyone can make it to the Hall Of Fame?" Soooo no one else thinks that dumb as hell???
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) July 31, 2017
So you played for the Hall an not to win. If I was on his team we fighting idc if we don't play no more. Don't waste my time. Not wit hoop!
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) July 31, 2017
So, to recap, Smith also believes the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducts “people who did nothing,” McGrady “played for the Hall [and] not to win,” and would fight T-Mac over those facts.
This seems like an appropriate take and not a rush to judgment at all from the guy who instigated the 2006 Knicks-Nuggets brawl, got brought up on assault charges resulting from a 2007 night club incident, and sandwiched playoff suspensions for elbowing Jason Terry in 2013 and punching Jae Crowder in 2015 around allegations he choked a teenager who poked fun at his trade to Cleveland.
We are not sure if Smith, who once described the Knicks’ offense as “too much thinking,” read through the entirety of McGrady’s statements, but just in case he didn’t, here they are, via MassLive.com:
“Social media can give a lot of people voices these days, and the first thing they say is ‘No rings, no rings,'” McGrady said on Friday, in an appearance at the Hall of Fame’s 60 Days of Summer Program. “You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with that. But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.”
“It’s such a surreal feeling,” McGrady said. “Before coming to the NBA, I didn’t know anything about the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t like a goal of mine. I just loved to play the game of basketball, and whatever accomplishments I got after that, obviously I’d be thrilled. This right here, this is awesome. The Hall? Really? From my story, where I came from, if I’d known that I’d be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, it really doesn’t get better than that.”
Had Smith considered more than just the pull quote, he might have recognized that McGrady also said the Hall of Fame wasn’t on his mind as a player, because of course it wasn’t, and he wasn’t fortunate enough to play on a team that was talented enough to win a title. He did do stuff like this, though:
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 9, 2016
None of this is new. McGrady has said this before. His playoff failures — many of which were marked by injuries to McGrady and All-Star teammates Grant Hill and Yao Ming — are well-documented, and even T-Mac concedes he wasn’t the sort of superstar who could single-handedly lead a team to a ring.
From Dominique Wilkins to Reggie Miller, plenty of Hall-worthy wings never won titles. That McGrady considers his plaque in Springfield “my championship” seems like an acceptable consolation prize.
Instead, Smith did the equivalent of going on social media and saying, “No rings, no rings.”
Even Smith’s criticism of the one quote he did pull from McGrady— “Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.” — seems like misplaced anger. Adam Morrison, for example, has a championship ring. Maybe Smith doesn’t realize Sasha Kaun took home some jewelry, too, after the Cavaliers won in 2016. And while every Hall of Fame class features a name or two you might not recognize — a Zack Clayton or Zelmo Beaty — these are not unaccomplished players who, as Smith suggested, “can build a park [and] get in.” These are pioneers of the game with extensive resumes.
McGrady’s resume includes seven All-Star appearances, seven All-NBA honors and two scoring titles.
Smith’s resume before being dealt to a team that featured LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love was mostly highlighted by a violation of the league’s substance policy, a yearbook quote that read, “Get chicks or die trying,” and “some really unbelievable shot selection” as a productive sixth man.
JR Smith on how he'll play with the Cavs without knowing the playbook: "My motto is, 'When in doubt, shoot the ball'"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 7, 2015
J.R. Smith: "I'd rather take a contested shot than an open shot any day … It's kind of boring when you take open shots"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 21, 2015
In fact, a midseason quote from Smith during his 2013 Sixth Man of the Year campaign seems equally, if not more, self-indulgent than McGrady’s post-retirement rationalization of a career without a ring:
“My eyes are on being an All-Star, honestly. I’m not focusing on Sixth Man. Sixth Man is more long-term, honestly, end of the year. My individual goal right now is All-Star, then I’ll think about the Sixth Man. I’m trying to be that All-Star coming off the bench for my team.”
I would be leaping to the same conclusion Smith came to about McGrady if I suggested, “So you played for the All-Star Game [and] not to win,” but you get the point. Before you get on a Hall of Famer for having his priorities straight, you probably want to make sure your own game is buttoned up beyond giving up easy baskets because you were saying what’s up to Jason Terry on the sidelines:
omfg J.R. Smith decides to stop playing defense to say what's up to Jason Terry, gives up layup…PEAK J.R. https://t.co/oW0MJblJn7
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) November 30, 2016
“Not wit hoop,” indeed.
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