This is one of the most amazing stories of the entire lockout.
We’ve talked about how in the wake of an injury in his first game, and how J.R. Smith left the team to seek treatment, his Chinese squad (the Zhejiang Golden Bulls) had just about enough of him. Smith has been Smith — late to or just flat out missing practices — and the team was frustrated enough to just cut bait.
But then in comes the Stephon Marbury to save the day. Yes, Marbury was the voice or reason. Here is the story as told by Sheridanhoops.com.
The club was exasperated. A document to terminate the contract was in preparation. Although the contract is guaranteed, if Smith broke the rules more than twice, the team has the right to end the contract without any compensation….
At that moment, Smith realized the danger of the situation. He needed help badly, and Stephon Marbury gave him a hand….
Marbury and his Chinese friend said yes to his request. At first, the club was tough and insisted it would terminate Smith. Then, they agreed to give him another chance, but he had to apologize for his behavior and promise to improve.
The club had another demand: Smith must live with the team. Before the issue, all the other Zhejiang players lived in standard rooms of a common hotel, but Smith persisted that he wanted to stay in a suite of a 5-star hotel. Smith presented his regrets and accepted these requirements.
Marbury talks about he tried to explain the cultural differences to Smith and basically told him you have to be part of the team — live in their dorms, eat their food, travel with them. The team is more of a unit in China, not like NBA teams where players show up for work but don’t always hang out together in off hours.
We’ll see how long that lasts. But for now, J.R. Smith is back in the fold.