Dear J.R. Smith,
Congratulations on inevitably putting pen to paper on a newly minted deal that Marc Berman of the New York Post says is worth nearly $25 million over the next few years.
I'm happy for you and excited that you stayed. For a minute there, I thought the New York Knicks weren't going to be able to afford you (though not really).
My jubilation evaporated almost immediately after hearing about the deal, though. Now I officially resent you. Again. Sort of.
I abhor the concept of an impatient Knicks fan. There are only Knicks fans. We're all impatient. New York is an abrupt locale, a concrete jungle where love and appreciation are fleeting, hope is ever-lasting to a fault and "tolerance" isn't in our vocabulary.
We needed you, J.R. Don't get me wrong—the Knicks, this city, needed you, but that makes me sick. Knowing we painted ourselves into a corner where a notoriously inefficient, habitual party-goer was a necessity is a tad nauseating.
Winning the Sixth Man of the Year award didn't dictate our need for you. The absence of any financial flexibility whatsoever did. New York could have moved on if it had the means to, but it didn't. And so, here you are, in all your fist-pumping, club-hopping, bling-wielding glory.
Not that I didn't want you here, because again, we needed you. I even admire you for accepting a (slight) pay cut to play here. Had Carmelo Anthony shown the same loyalty to his so-called home, maybe the Knicks wouldn't have been fleeced of all their assets back in 2011. Maybe Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler or the rights to past and future draft picks would still be here.
Don't think for a minute that gets you off the hook, unfortunately. You didn't have any better offers on the table. Not ones that blew you away at least.
To be clear, I'm fine with your contract. There will be those that think $6-plus million annually is a bit much for someone who's averaging 13.2 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting for his career, but I'm not one of them.
I've seen Monta Ellis make eight figures annually and Nate Robinson struggle to find a home even though he's routinely outperformed others like Kevin Martin, now of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I understand that the NBA isn't always rational. Most of New York does too (see everything James Dolan has ever had his hand in).
Still, we want more. Being the second-best player on the team for the entire regular season doesn't mean anything. Neither do those game-winning shots you hit against the Charlotte Bobcats and the Phoenix Suns.
After putting up 14.3 points on 33.1 percent shooting when we needed you most during the playoffs, you've left much to be desired. Oh so much.
Becoming just the second player in NBA playoff history over the last 50 years to attempt at least 160 field goals yet shoot below 34 percent doesn't give you baller status.
Getting yourself suspended for a pivotal Game 4 against the Boston Celtics and then opting to sport all black before Game 5 falls under the same category. It's time to get your act together, once and for all.
You came so far during the regular season. You really did. It got to the point where you would take a shot, and us fans actually expected it to go in. Crazy, right?
Your past continued to catch up with you, though, always at the most inopportune of times. Like the playoffs, for instance.
I don't care who your coitus buddies are, and to an extent, I don't even care if you go clubbing. Your life is your life. Those paychecks you're cashing and the team that's writing them—that's my concern.
The playoffs are no time for being a social butterfly. Those games are your life. For however long the Knicks are in the playoffs, you breathe basketball. No exceptions. Writers do the same during the postseason (and free agency and leading up to the draft and nearing the trade deadline). As a player, you should too.
LeBron James went on a social-media blackout, for crying out loud. Take note and learn from him. He's a two-time NBA champion who has managed to come back stronger from a decision that easily eclipsed any of the allegedly inebriated messes you've gotten yourself into.
Clearly, New York doesn't own you; we're just done with the Jekyll and Hyde act. No more unpaid jewelry bills, no more arrest warrants. That's all I and everyone else ask. It's all the rest of the NBA has been asking for nearly a decade.
By all means, live it up. You're in New York; you're young, rich and presumably single. Pop champagne and do whatever it is you do.
But do it while knowing the state of New York's legal limits and the Big Apple fanbase's expectations. Never let it get to the point where your father needs to come out and defend you. And never take the postseason for granted. Never, ever.
Again, I'm not making accusations or claiming I know the truth about anything. I'm just done with "supposedly" and "allegedely." Pushing 27, you're smarter than what the public is making you out to be.
You're an adult. And yeah, you're pretty damn good at putting that round orange ball through that equally round hoop when you want to be. But you can be even better. That's why New York is happy, and why I'm happy, you're staying. I'd even say I'm proud of you.
Almost a decade into your career, it was time to get paid. Now it's time to think before you shoot, to think before you make it rain.
Thus, I urge you to trade in whatever version of a pipe you may or may not be known for making reference to for another basketball, and live up to the expectations of this contract, of your career.
More than just a Keyboard Warrior
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