J.R. Smith was put through the ringer last week for untying Dwight Howard’s shoe, untying Shawn Marion’s shoe and gesturing to untie Greg Monroe’s shoe.
Smith was fined, benched, told to grow up by his coach and shamed by the NBA’s most powerful writer.
So why didn’t Larry Bird get the same treatment after his matchup with Chuck Person in the 1991 playoffs? Jack McCallum’s “Unfinished Business,” as excerpted by Billy Haisley on Deadspin:
Bird and Person continued their personal battle. At one point when Bird was out of the game and lying on his towel in front of the bench, he reached over and untied Person’s shoelaces as the Pacer waited for a free throw at the other end.
Bird is a relentless competitor who will seek any edge.
Smith is a clown who doesn’t play the game the right way.
The characterizations were written long before either player untied an opponent’s shoe. The facts were just fit into the narrative in support of the already-established script.
Anyone who slammed Smith should either accept they overreacted or assess Bird similarly for this act. A difference in eras does not justify one and not the other.
Bird and Smith are obviously not the same and do not deserve the same reputations.
But for how they handled these specific cases, they deserve the same scrutiny.
Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.
Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.
Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.