The NBA has announced today that J.R. Smith has been fined $50,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. The fine stems from Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks in which Smith untied Shawn Marion’s shoelaces during a free throw. The NBA warned Smith not to do it again, but during last night’s contest against the Detroit Pistons, Smith once again tried the stunt.
It’s a funny incident, but it really shows the level of immaturity and carelessness in Smith. No, untying an opponent’s shoe isn’t so bad, but the lack of focus on the court can be directly tied to Smith’s historically bad start. According to Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal, Smith would be the first player since 1960 to log 30 minutes per game (Smith averages 32) while shooting below 35% from the field (Smith is currently shooting 34%).
Is $50,000 a bit harsh? Yes, it certainly is. But Smith was warned, and after several years in the league, Smith has to know not to mock the NBA, even if he was just kidding. Mike Woodson, responding to the fine on ESPN radio, called Smith’s actions “unprofessional and unacceptable.” We’ll wait to see if Woodson actually does anything to discipline Smith now.
If Smith were perhaps scoring 18 points per game on 42% shooting like he was last season, then this would be funnier. But right now, for a team struggling to get back to .500, Smith’s antics are beginning to wear thin on fans (can’t you tell?).
This has been a forgettable season for Smith, even worse that it’s coming off of a fresh contract the Knicks rewarded him with for his solid pay and loyalty to the team. He missed the first five games of the season serving a suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, and now he’s paying fines for acting like a child on the court.
Smith has never really earned a huge contract in the NBA. One day, all of these fines and missed money will come back to bite him:
Keep fighting the good fight, J.R.
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