Don't try the puppy-dog eyes, J.R. They won't work. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith has been fined $25,000 "for directing hostile and inappropriate language to another player via Twitter account, in violation of NBA rules," the NBA announced Friday afternoon. The fine stems from a Wednesday evening online imbroglio that — [inhales deeply, sighs heavily] — centered on subtweeting and protective fraternal instincts.
In case you missed the briefly broiling microblog beef, Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings cracked wise about J.R.'s younger brother Chris Smith having an NBA roster spot (in what's been reported was a sweetheart deal made to keep J.R. happy) while other NBA-caliber talents (exemplified in this case by ex-NBA guards Bobby Brown and Pooh Jeter) ply their trades overseas. J.R. promptly responded with some not-naming-any-names invective, highlighted by this (since-deleted) Motor City-directed missive:
(A since-deleted tweet from J.R. Smith)
Apparently, the commissioner's office doesn't take too kindly to suggestions that homies might be called up to put a place, and those who live there, on smash for a minute.
This is not J.R.'s first run-in with Twitter-related drama. Back in 2009, while he was a member of the Denver Nuggets, the Denver Post questioned messages on his account written in a way "commonly associated with street gangs," leading Smith to shut down his account lest he court further controversy. J.R. Smith later returned to Twitter, though, and he ran afoul of the league in March 2012, earning a $25,000 fine for sending out a not-suitable-for-work photo of the near-bare backside of his then-girlfriend.
And now, he's in hot water again, as he discussed with Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press ahead of the Knicks' Thursday night loss to the Houston Rockets:
''I'm always in trouble with Twitter,'' Smith said before the Knicks played Houston. ''I don't know what it is. Trying to shake it.'' [...]
Smith denied any bad intent, saying he and Jennings have played together in the summer and had a good relationship.
''There's a way to threaten somebody and that's not the way, to publicly threaten somebody,'' Smith said.
He added that he didn't think his tweets were a big deal, but said coach Mike Woodson spoke with him about it. [...]
''I haven't tweeted in a couple of months until the other day, so it was working kind of, so I might just go back to that,'' Smith said.
He may not have a choice. Woodson said he only wanted players tweeting positive things, but might decide to put in a policy prohibiting them from tweeting entirely.
On one hand, that would be a bummer for fans who enjoy keeping up with J.R. and the rest of the Knicks via 140-character bursts. On the other, I'm pretty sure he would keep up his very lively and robust Instagram presence no matter what, so we'd probably still be kept up to speed on his comings and goings even if Woody puts the kibosh on Twitter.
J.R. Smith is averaging 10.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game on 25.7 percent shooting in three games since returning from offseason knee surgery and a five-game drug suspension. Chris Smith has yet to play this season. The Knicks will visit the Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Tuesday.
J.R. Smith is the second NBA player penalized for Twitter posts judged to be objectionable by the league. Los Angeles Clippers reserve Matt Barnes received a $25,000 fine on Thursday for a since-deleted tweet he sent after being ejected from a Wednesday night victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder following a skirmish with power forward Serge Ibaka.
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