J.R. Smith: Groin shot was unintentional, blames suspension on bad boy reputation
J.R. Smith believes the one-game suspension he received from the NBA for his hit to the groin of Washington Wizards guard Glen Rice Jr. during Tuesday night’s game had more to do with his reputation as a basketball bad boy than what punishment the action merited.
The New York Knicks shooting guard said the players’ union will be filing a grievance on his behalf.
Smith has been suspended three times since 2012, a total of seven games, and has been fined in excess of $100,000. This history, the Knicks star argues, is a misrepresentation and what prompted the one-game ban, a punishment he served during Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
The league begs to differ. NBA president of basketball operations Rob Thorn told the Associated Press, per an ESPN.com report, that Smith’s perceptively sordid past had nothing to do with the punishment imposed.
But Smith holds firm in the belief that his reputation preceded him in this instance. He insists he did not strike Rice’s groin on purpose.
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s something that anybody’s seen that was deliberate about (the play),” Smith said during Friday’s shootaround, according to the New York Daily News. “They did. Just got to take it for what it is.”
He wasn’t particularly taken aback, though, by the suspension, either.
“I wasn’t surprised. It is what it is,” Smith said. “At this stage of my career with all the suspensions and stuff like that, once I knew I had to make the phone call, something was going to come down from it.
“It is what it is, just got to move on and try and win some games.”
Smith defended his actions in Tuesday’s game by claiming he was “just trying to clear space” on a play where Rice strangely was whistled for a blocking foul.
Despite his protestations, a suspension is a suspension, and it’s a situation Smith abhors.
“It’s always tough being suspended period. To go out there and watch the team play, knowing you can’t really do anything to help at that point, especially when we were going through our rough patches and what not – it’s hard,” Smith said. “It’s hard to sit there and grasp. It is what it is. You got to trust that they go out there and make the right decision.”
In this case, at least in Smith’s eyes, the right decision was not made. Perhaps there may be something to Smith arguing that he has been unfairly labeled as a bad boy, but oftentimes, the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes.
The one positive that can be taken out of this situation is that at least Smith has stopped getting in trouble for untying the shoes of opponents. That’s something.
(photo credit: J.R. Smith: Anadolu Agency)