By now you all have seen the video footage of Denver Nuggets’ J.R. Smith writhing in pain after his apparent knee injury while playing with the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association.
It was enough to make anyone watching it cringe at the sight of Smith in seemingly a lot of pain and wonder if his injury would cause him to sit out a few games, or worse, undergo surgery.
But by some miracle Smith’s knee healed rather quickly (three days later) as he got time on the court for the Bulls in their following game where he went on to score 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and had four assists in over 30 minutes. Albeit he was limping.
Not bad for someone who seemed to be in danger of being out of commission for quite some time.
But is there more to this than meets the eye? Maybe.
Although an MRI revealed the injury was a pulled quadriceps muscle, come reports Smith and the team have been in-fighting to the point the Bulls feel Smith faked his recent knee injury to return to the U.S.
“Everyone saw the pain on Smith’s face after he got hurt. Compare that to the results of his exam. We’re all intelligent people, we should all know what’s going on here. When you compare his performance on the court with the game’s final result, you’ll realize. When he was injured, would he have had that big of a reaction [if the score was closer]?”
Smith did respond to this insinuation.
“My goal was nor is not to leave! My goal is to win! And for us to win, our team must be heathy!”
But apparently, this is just one of many incidents with Smith and the Bulls according to team general manager, Zhao Bing.
“At least three or four times, he’s just said he doesn’t feel good and that he’s not coming to practice,” said head coach, Ding Wei. “The whole team is at a loss. One time we realized that he wasn’t at practice because he had gone to Shanghai to go shopping.”
There was also an unauthorized trip to Beijing by Smith after the injury, to the disapproval of Bing, which ended up in a war of words on Twitter.
If Smith is trying to get out of town and head back to the U.S.. he’s going about it all wrong. If what Bing is saying is true, then Smith is portraying himself as someone as unprofessional, and a prima donna. Not only that, Smith is a free-agent and will be looking to latch on to either the Nuggets or a new team. Behavior like this isn’t going to help his cause.
Smith is getting paid $3 million by the Bulls, is receiving tons of perks out in China, and although he wasn’t given an opt-out clause (due to CBA rules regarding locked-out players) he must reflect and be thankful to have a job during this time of flux in the NBA.
That or the Bulls will simply cut their losses and cut him loose. Perhaps that way everyone wins.