Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, who once allegedly choked a New York City teenager who heckled him after his 2015 trade from the Knicks, has written a children’s book with his younger brother, Chris.
“The Smiths’ book is a true story, or close to it. In the book, as in real life, brothers JR and Chris play for a basketball team named after and coached by their father, Earl,” per The Athletic’s Joe Vardon.
According to Vardon, the book, entitled “Hoopsmiths: J.R. and Chris Learn Teamwork,” follows the true-life teamwork lessons that the Smith brothers learned from their dad as children, starting with the time J.R. took and missed a last-second potential game-winner instead of passing it to his brother.
This is the same man who said in the span of fourth months three years ago, “When in doubt, shoot the ball,” and, “I’d rather take a contested shot than an open shot any day. … It’s kind of boring when you take open shots.” Those lessons about teamwork, it seems, took a while to seep in for Smith.
The book, somewhat poetically, came out last week, roughly three months after Smith rebounded a missed free throw and mistakenly dribbled out the clock on regulation with the score tied in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, rather than passing it to an open LeBron James for a potential game-winning shot.
“I think it’s a thing where the youth understands who I am, what I’ve done on the court,” Smith told The Athletic. “The older generation probably knows as well off the court, but they still know who I am on the court. That’s how I got the name I have now. So I feel like it’s a responsibility for me to try and give back through my lessons that I’ve learned, unfortunately, whether it’s good or bad, to make sure some of these kids don’t follow the same footsteps I did.”
Those on-court moments include elbowing Jason Terry in the chin, untying opponents’ shoes, punching Jae Crowder in the face, walking off the floor to greet Terry during a game and purposefully undercutting Al Horford in the playoffs. And those are just a few lowlights from the past five years.
Smith’s 14-year basketball career has featured just as many highlights, including a Sixth Man of the Year honor as a member of the Knicks in 2013 and an NBA title with the Cavaliers in 2016. He’s a career 37.4 percent 3-point shooter who this season can climb into the top 10 for most 3-pointers made.
Smith hasn’t exactly been a model citizen off the court, either. He’s had a handful of reckless driving incidents, including one that resulted in the death of a friend who was in his vehicle and another this past October. He was suspended last season for throwing soup at an assistant coach, and he might face another suspension this season after he was charged with breaking a fan’s cellphone last month.
“The only thing I can say is I’ve owned up to everything I’ve ever done,” Smith told The Athletic this week. “I’m not going to run from it, hide from it, I did it. I’m going to wear it on my shoulders and I’m going to take responsibility for it.
“My thing is, if they are going to talk about you when you’re down, make sure you talk about me when I’m up, too.”
It’s unclear if that lesson is in the book, too.
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