November 21, 2011
Former Denver Nuggets scorer J.R. Smith(notes) was quick to jump to the Chinese Basketball Association during he NBA's offseason well before the NBA owners and players failed to come up with an agreement to end the league's lockout of its players. The CBA, though, is playing hardball with potential NBA evacuees; telling players that only NBA free agents can come over to the league, and that all contracts are binding and can't be left for dead when or if the NBA's season started up.
All of which added to a mini soap-opera of sorts in Smith's first game with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. Smith appeared to strain his knee badly, which could mean at worst a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament and the end of his season. Smith's father, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, isn't as worried. Take a look at the clip:
The drama, as it usually is with Smith, doesn't end there.
According to SI.com's Zach Lowe, Smith's contract is fully guaranteed for the $3 million he signed for a few months ago. And he's already clashing with his new team on just how he wants his knee treated.
It's unclear how severe Mr. Smith's injury is. Zhao Bing, the Golden Bulls' general manager, said the player repeatedly declined medical treatment from the team and arranged his own treatment in Beijing instead. "We warned him that he's not allowed to go to Beijing without a proper medical check," Mr. Zhao said, expressing his displeasure at Mr. Smith's disobedience. "He just wouldn't listen."
Mr. Zhao posted a warning to Mr. Smith on Sina Weibo on Monday afternoon, saying the player should return to team as soon as possible "or face the consequences."
Zhao also made a snide comment to the WSJ about the way Smith "should have been aware that CBA is not an easy game to play," as if the injury had anything to do with the level of competition in the CBA. It's one thing for Smith to already be pushing the boundaries in his first week with the Golden Bulls', but it's another for the team's GM to be this exasperated just as quickly.
To echo his words, Zhao should have been aware that dealing with J.R. Smith is not an easy game to play.