Before I give you the dirty, here is what Smith had to say about meeting up with his old coach and team in said article by Chris Dempsey, “I'm just worried about a win, and that's all.” Basically pretty standard talk for a professional athlete not wanting to throw stones at a former organization and a fairly mature statement by J.R. if I don’t say so myself.
However… Coach Byron Scott had this to say about J.R. and his time spent with the Hornets, “I thought his work ethic was the biggest problem we had. Just the fact that I told him all the things that I felt he needed to do and then he commenced on telling you guys (media) that I never told him. I was talking to him right there with Willis Reed and (general manager) Jeff Bower, telling him what he has to work on. He would do it for one day and then he wouldn't do it again. I'm trying to help a young man develop and he didn't want to. He wanted to play his way, which was just shoot 3s and see how many dunks he could get. From a coaching standpoint, I can't wait until a guy gets to a point two or three years later where he wants to play.”
So now that the fire has been lit underneath J.R.’s behind, he should have extra incentive to stick it to his former coach and team in tonight’s game. I hope that every time he drips a three he turns a looks at Coach Scott and holds up the hands. And let’s be honest for a second, who really looks like morons in this situation? The Hornets who gave up one of the most talented and athletic young players in the league for Howard Eisley (who was traded and waived immediately by the Bulls) and two second round picks or the Nuggets who now have one of the top three-point shooters in the league when total three pointers made and average bombs made per game are the measuring sticks (He is top-ten in the NBA in both despite missing ten games!)?
Sure Smith came into camp a little bit deficient on the defensive end, but his upside is tremendous and he has shown that he wants to play better defense. It is also so easy to forget that J.R. is just barely old enough to buy himself a beer and that he will be in this league for the next ten years or maybe even longer. With that being said, one can presume that while playing high school-level competition J.R. wasn’t exactly game ready on the defensive end for NBA quality offensive opposition. So all in all, I say hit ‘em for 25, J.R., and make Scott eat his words!