New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith reacts after hitting a three-point shot against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York

The complex personality, career of J.R. Smith


This is from our “if you read one post today make it this one” file:

J.R. Smith — former Hornet, former Nugget, current enigmatic backup shooting guard for the Knicks — is one of the most fascinating people to league to follow. Mostly because his talent is undeniable and he rarely sticks to the script. We like rouges and rebels, Smith comes off as that.

But as we learn in a brilliant bit of writing by Jonathan Abrams over at Grantland, he is much more than that. Abrams goes back to the high school coaches (plural) of the even then temperamental star, talks to his father, and paints a picture that is not simple, that does not paint Smith as good or bad but as a complex person. Misunderstood and misguided.

Take for example his rough transition from high school star straight to the pros.

Smith’s father believes (then Hornets coach Byron) Scott didn’t help J.R. nearly enough, calling him a “good friend” before adding, “You’ve got a kid out of high school, you treat him as an adult, and you can’t do that. He’s with men and he’s done something wrong, you need to guide him with your hand and say, ‘No, you don’t do that.’ Or every time he comes with his shirt out, you fine him. You’ve got to nurture him. That’s with anything.”

(Randy) Holmes, Smith’s mentor from his Lakewood (high school in New Jersey) days, moved with Smith to New Orleans, where he witnessed the realities of the professional game affecting Smith’s confidence. “For the first time in his basketball career, he wasn’t the man,” Holmes said. “Coaches really got on him. Byron Scott is old-school. It’s his way or no way. You can just sit on that bench and rot if you don’t do what the coach wants you to do or you don’t get it.”

Smith went on to have George Karl as a coach, he has Mike Woodson now. The relationships are up and down. Misunderstood and misguided.

Really, just do yourself a favor, set aside a few minutes and go read Abrams entire piece. It’s the best thing you will read all day.

Matt Barnes says he went to house because his son looked distressed

Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, Russell Westbrook
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So far, the only substantive accounts of the Matt Barnes-Derek Fisher altercation have come from anonymous sources.

The Knicks coach has deflected questions.

But Barnes is giving his account, at least of the lead-up.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

It’s completely understandable that Barnes would act to ensure his children’s welfare.

And let’s say everything he said is true. It still leaves important questions unanswered.

Did Barnes – as he reportedly texted a friend he did – beat up Fisher and spit on his estranged wife, Gloria Govan? If so, why did Barnes deem that necessary to protect kids?

Gregg Popovich resting himself for Spurs game at Sacramento

Gregg Popovich
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Gregg Popovich said he wouldn’t coach in July.

Apparently, he’s taking off part of October, too.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

It’s not that surprising to see Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw staying home. Veterans miss preseason games all the time just to rest. With the Spurs, it happens even in the regular season.

But it’s still a little strange to see the head coach sit out, even though Popovich also did it last year.

It makes sense, though. Who cares about this preseason game? If travelling less helps the 66-year-old Popovich stay fresh in the years ahead, that’s well worth it. Plus, it gets Messina a little extra experience. Some day, he might be the head coach.