J.R. Smith got a fair bit of attention when he said, via his Twitter account, that “kobe is great but not when he play me.” Rightfully so. It’s quite the statement for a hot-scoring guard but mercurial problem child, especially considering that on the other side of his tweet lies one of the greatest players in the game today and the greatest shooting guard of the current era.
It’s hard to point to Smith’s comments and conclusively say either way that they had nothing to do with the Lakers’ 95-89 victory over the Nuggets on Sunday, but Kobe himself tried his damnedest to convince us that that was was indeed the case. From Kevin Ding of the OC Register:
Kobe Bryant didn’t feel any need to fire back at Denver’s J.R. Smith for boasting via his Twitter account that Bryant isn’t great against Smith. “He’s one of my young boys,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ victory over Denver on Sunday. “I don’t take that real seriously. Look at the track record. I think it was something that was kind of said in jest.”
I wouldn’t put it past J.R. to be joking throughout this mini-ordeal, but I also wouldn’t put it past Kobe to callously brush off Smith based on the merit (or lack of, really) of the claim. As the victor of the contest and clearly the match-up, Bryant certainly has that right. But we may never know to what extent either is simply playing the PR game, be it by throwing an outlandish statement to the wind or pretending to be completely unphased.