J.R. Smith sounds like someone growing up.
Yes, he just became known for being the guy without a shirt on — something even President Obama was commenting about — but when you step back from the championship celebration, you get a bigger picture.
On the court, Smith had evolved from an unconscious gunner to a steady catch-and-shoot role player for the Cavaliers. Off the court, he is back with his wife, and he’s making more mature decisions, something he talked about with Jared Zwerling of the NBPA.
Ever since I got back with my wife, Jewel, last year and proposed to her in August, things started going uphill slowly but surely….
A lot has changed for me mentally and materially. I used to in the summertime spend so much money doing a lot of fun stuff. Now, I’m actually consciously trying to save, so we can live how we want to live after basketball. I’ve even sold a few things. More than anything, being in that dad role is more important now. I know I have to leave something for these girls. I don’t want to leave them with bills or anything.
I want to leave with something that they can do what they want to do with it. After my career is over with, and they have kids, I think more than anything it’s just building a foundation for the family.
As part of that, Smith and his father are opening a Team Swish lifestyle store — where you’re going to be able to buy that no-shirt J.R. Smith shirt.
While I had been working on it for a while, it was just the matter of when was the right time. So it just so happens now it is, with the championship, to open my own sneaker store in my hometown of Millstone Township, N.J….
Ever since I was a kid, I always dreamed of having my own sneaker store. When I was growing up, this was when Michael Jordan was in the prime of everything. So a fresh pair of kicks was always everything. No matter what else you had on, if you had a fresh pair of sneakers on, you were always the freshest guy in school—no matter what your pants looked like, no matter what your shirt looked like, hat, whatever. It was always about the shoes, so I got attached extremely early.
Smith is never going to be Kawhi Leonard kind of quiet and mature guy, nor should we expect him to be.
But 2016 Smith seems far more mature than the 2013 version, a man legendary around the league for how fast he would burn through a paycheck (and ask for money up front in his deals). Hopefully he finds that balance — and hopefully his store is a success. I can think of a few teammates where if he got them to swing by….