J.R. Smith: 'I Really Don't Understand the True Meaning' of Growing Up

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2014

Dec 16, 2013; New York, NY, USA;  New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) brings the ball up court during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Washington Wizards defeat the New York Knicks 102-101. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

All this time we've wondered why embattled New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith hasn't matured, and now we have our answer: He doesn't understand what "growing up" means.

Prior to New York's victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, Smith spoke with reporters about being benched against the Miami Heat and showed little remorse for Shoelacegate, basically pleading innocence.

Smith's defense? Ignorance.

"He’s [Mike Woodson] been telling me [to grow up] since I got here," Smith told the media, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman. "Honestly, growing up I really don’t understand the true meaning of it. I’ve been misunderstood my whole life. It’s not going to change now."

There you have it. Smith isn't a culprit; he's a victim of cryptic language. The NBA's Peter Pan—you know, if Peter Pan was a party-crazed vodka-guzzler whose recurrent mischievous acts were more self-destructive and deplorable than immature and troubling. 

Coach Woodson has repeatedly indicated Smith needs to grow up and did so yet again following the latest nonsense, per Hoopsworld's Tommy Beer:

Please use simpler language, Woody. How can you expect a 28-year-old Smith to comprehend words like "grow" and "up"? You might as well tell him to use the Gaussian integral to calculate how may licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Not that Smith didn't learn anything from his benching, because he did.

"Don't goof around, I guess," Smith said following his 14-point, six-assist performance against Philly, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley. "Be serious. Be a professional. And just don’t take this opportunity here you have for granted."

To think, it only took nearly a decade's worth of games for Smith to realize he needed to be professional. Way to go, J.R.

In truth, this shoelace business was likely blown out of proportion. But because this is Smith, and because he cannot seem to understand the importance of rules, he was vilified for his actions. 

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a scathing follow-up piece that focused on Smith's past transgressions, concluding that he is a "spoiled, suburban kid" and a hopeless cause.

Overly cruel or not, there are grounds for such portrayals until Smith leaves his private and dysfunctional version of Neverland and come joins the rest of us on Planet Earth.