There could be only one game left in the NBA season, but a few months ago it looked like we might never get to this point. The lockout raged on with no end in sight. Many players were looking for work, and they went overseas to get it.
Of all those players, volcanic shooter J.R. Smith had the most interesting experience. Brought to the team as a star, he was accused of faking an injury by his general manager, got fined roughly $1 million for missing various practices and commitments, and also put in a few pretty amazing performances.
Knicks guard J.R. Smith is disputing he missed 80 practices with his Chinese team — virtually all of them — in a lawsuit filed with FIBA to recoup the $1,078,500 withheld from his salary.
In the complaint obtained by The Post, a four-page list of other alleged transgressions depict a player who had blatant disregard for the Zhejiang Chouzhou rules during his short tenure. Smith did not attend a series of pregame team meetings and took trips to Shanghai, Bejing and the United Kingdom during practice days without telling the club. Every missed practice was denoted by date from Oct. 25, 2011-Feb. 15, 2012.
The Chinese team also alleged it requested Smith's sister Stephanie be sent home to the U.S., claiming she was "abusive'' and "the root'' of Smith missing virtually every practice because she had him take her shopping. (Stephanie reportedly choked a Chinese fan during a game).
The case will be ruled upon in the coming weeks by a FIBA arbitrator in Geneva, Switzerland.
Smith's NBA career has been typified by volatility both on the court and off it, which means it's not terribly surprising that he'd anger a team enough to get fined $1 million and sue them to get the money back. That doesn't mean the fines weren't fair — it just means that drama tends to follow Smith.
There is little analysis to be done of this situation right now — both sides will make their cases, the arbitrator will rule, and one party will get angry. What's most notable here is the shocking breadth of Smith's alleged misdeeds. How, exactly, can someone play for a basketball team and miss every single practice? And while going to Shanghai and Beijing makes some amount of sense, how did J.R. leave for and return from the UK in time for the next game?
I don't want an answer to these questions so justice is served. I simply want to know if J.R. Smith is even more amazing than we ever thought possible?