J.R. Smith untied Shawn Marion’s shoe right before a free throw (Video)

Professional athletes are known to do anything to gain a competitive advantage, taking part in everything from questionably legal activity on the field of play to a medical procedure or accessory of dubious scientific merit. High-level competitive is so, well, competitive that pretty much anything qualifies as a reasonable tactic in pursuit of a win. As the saying goes, all's fair in love and the playing of a child's game within a billion-dollar business.

Sometimes, though, an athlete does something so thoroughly ludicrous that it lays bare the whole moral uncertainty of any such action. Take, for instance, one such ploy from New York Knicks enigma J.R. Smith in the second quarter of Sunday's road game against the Dallas Mavericks. With the Knicks already up 48-33 and Dirk Nowitzki at the line for the second of two free throws, Smith bent down and pulled the shoelace of Shawn Marion right before the shot. Take a look below:

Smith's gambit forced Marion into a difficult decision: to tie his shoe, thereby forcing his team into a 5-on-4 defensive situation, or to play until the next stoppage in a danger over which adults caution children as soon as they're able to walk. Ever the capable pro, Marion played the Knicks' possession with shoe untied, although Andrea Bargnani — not his man — did sink a mid-range jumper. Smith, to his credit, restrained himself from stomping on the loose lace to restrict Marion's movement.

It's easy to mock J.R. for a move that seems fit for the Harlem Globetrotters, but maybe he was just proving he can be a wily veteran. On Friday night, Smith took an ill-advised three-pointer late, with the score tied, in a game that the Knicks eventually lost. By untying Marion's shoes, Smith really just proved that he can play winning basketball.

I mean, it can't be a coincidence that the Knicks beat the Mavericks 92-80. The team that wants the win most usually gets it.

(Video via @cjzero)

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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