Previous post about JR Smith
Chauncey Billups’s Achilles popping for no reason is an opportunity for JR Smith.
Basketball opportunities come so infrequently for people. How many of us dreamed of playing pro basketball? All of us—and all of us were denied. Furthermore, even that miniscule number of superhumans who do play have opportunities snatched from them all the time, like Chauncey. Far more infrequent than a player having an opportunity snatched away are players having a perfect opportunity to succeed. And the “volume perimeter shooter” is perhaps the pro player least disposed to catch breaks. Sure, shot-creators stick in the league. But they get maimed as inefficient and selfish and stupid, as if volume shooters are holding themselves back, as opposed to say, a lead-footed big who’s held back by his skills. That’s silly and unfair: JR Smith is limited by his skills just as Desagana Diop is.
That’s why it may seem so important for JR to leap at the opportunity he’ll have when his Chinese team is done playing. Desagana Diopsticks started for Finals team, a Finals team that could have just as easily been a championship team. JR is a boneheaded volume shooter now, but if he signs with the Clips at the minimum, he could be a relevant and respected shooting guard. He needs only to subjugate his game to the mind control of Chris Pablo and the touches of Lake Griffin (Blake Superior? Such a stupid nickname). Chris Pablo discovers the right angles, by probing the variables, coefficients, and axial intercepts; JR hopes for the right angles based on trial and error. JR can just allow Chris Paul to think for him. What could follow could be the love of L.A., a Conference Finals run, a fat contract, a clean slate, observers completely flipping their opinion of him…
It’s easy to say that by looking out at the other. But the problem is that it’s not so easy for the other, who can only look in.
JR Smith is defined by his utter refusal to subjugate to anything but his limbs, joints, tendons. You don’t learn how to credibly jack contested threes and barrel into the lane planless without eschewing rational team concepts. There are layers and layers of basketball knowledge that JR has created in himself, now ingrained. Why should he be expected to give that up—to win? To make more money? To bask in the adulation? Should a teacher, who speaks in public for a living, repurpose her considerable skills to became a news anchor if the opportunity arises? How quickly can the layers building up into a whole person be switched out for other, differently composed layers?
At a certain point, to hope for too many of those layers to be switched out would be to simply hope for something that doesn’t exist. To negate circumstances, experience, and agency. JR Smith already exists, and we can’t blame JR Smith if he continues to do so.