Life in the NBA has not been great for J.R. Smith since his good friend and teammate LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland for Los Angeles. Particularly because the lasting memory of J.R. and Bron's time together is the infamous "I thought we were up" moment in Game One of the 2018 NBA Finals. Thanks to 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8t assists from LeBron, the Cavaliers were one J.R.-putback away from a Game 1 upset against the juggernaut Golden State Warriors.
Thanks to this mishap, the internet was soon filled with memes of J.R.'s blunder, often referring to him as being high or stupid due to a mental lapse that could have changed the series. The Cavs went into a complete rebuild the following year, and so began the slow demise of J.R.'s NBA career. However, it was never for his lack of skill, but for a perceived lack of awareness on and off the basketball court that teams did not trust Smith to play quality minutes in the NBA anymore.
Today, J.R. Smith is a college student and apparently, showed many of his classmates that he is far from what basketball fans online painted him to be. Smith scored a 4.0 in his first semester in college, proving his academic chops. However, instead of clapping back and gloating, J.R. took a more measured and inspirational approach when reacting to the good news.
"I can't even describe the feeling. You always hear about your disabilities and all this s**t that plays a part in why you can't think the way you want to… and still being able to achieve that s**t."
Smith is also on his college golf team, another sport in which the former NBA sniper excels, and despite the ridicule, J.R. is living his best life post-retirement. Smith is an NBA champion and quite frankly, was much better than people give him credit for. You cannot be an NBA player of J.R.'s level without a sharp mind, so all the J.R. slander because of one mental lapse is even more unwarranted with this recent report on Smith's academic performance.
Smith has five games with nine or more three-point field goals made, the fifth most in NBA history. J.R., alongside his Knicks buddy Iman Shumpert, was a vital player in the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history when the Cavs came down from a 3-1 deficit to win the 2016 NBA Championship. So before we resort to memes to judge a player's career, let's make sure to look at his body of work because just like with J.R., you might find that he deserves more than just your laughs.