Prayer with his mom, podcasts and 'Everybody Loves Raymond:' a look at Ish Smith's pregame rituals

Chase Hughes
NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- As Ish Smith will point out, everyone has their own way of feeling comfortable when they go to work. For him, that process of finding comfort happens to be in the leadup before an NBA game. Fans stream into the arena, the popcorn starts popping and he gets ready to compete at the highest level in the sport of basketball.

But, as he says, it's still going to work. And for Smith, the best way to get into the zone is to find an even level. He doesn't drink coffee or energy drinks or do anything to pump himself up.

On the way to the arena, Smith will listen to motivational podcasts or gospel music. And before every game, he calls his mother. She prays for him and the Wizards team. That eases his mind.

After that, things get a little more interesting. When he's in the locker room getting dressed for his pregame warm-ups, he binge-watches shows. Recently, he finished 'You' on Netflix. He has also started rewatching 'Breaking Bad.'

He likes both of those shows, but if you ask him for his favorite, odds are he will bring up a CBS sitcom that aired from 1996 to 2005. Smith can't get enough of 'Everybody Loves Raymond.'


"That's my show. That's my show," he said. "I don't know, I've always liked [it]."

Smith even has a list of his favorite episodes, like when Frank Barone, played by the late Peter Boyle, got into a fender bender with the front of Ray's house.

"One of my favorites is when the dad drove his car through the house. Raymond was calm for a minute. His wife, she always wants him to get on his family, but he's so scared of his family. So, his dad by accident drove it through it and told them to fix the wallpaper. So, they fix the wallpaper and he came in towards the end of the episode and seen that the wallpaper was not the same. So, Raymond just snapped. He just snapped. That was a really good episode," he said.

Smith will also watch old games of Chris Paul at Wake Forest or Steve Nash with the Suns. But whether it's classic hoops, TV or a movie, Smith has one rule. It can't have too much action.

That means no 'Fast and Furious,' he said for example.

"I already play too fast," he said.

So, we've already entered territory that is fairly unusual for NBA players. Go into basketball locker rooms and you won't often see someone binge-watching 'Everybody Loves Raymond.'

But it's after games start when Smith does something that is truly unique. When he's is not in the starting lineup, he will begin the game in the locker room instead of on the bench.

"I usually take off my sweats and I'm looking at the game [on TV]. I go use the bathroom, then run out there. It's a little routine I do when I come off the bench," he said.

That created an awkward situation on Jan. 3 when then-teammate Isaiah Thomas was ejected less than two minutes into the first quarter. When Smith ran out, the coaches were already looking for him, wondering where he had been.

"When I ran out, it was just in the nick of time," he said. "Everybody was like 'you ready?' I was like, 'ready for what?'"

Smith's pregame routine may be oddly specific, but it works for him. He's now in his 10th NBA season after going undrafted. That's not easy to do.

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Prayer with his mom, podcasts and 'Everybody Loves Raymond:' a look at Ish Smith's pregame rituals originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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