The Garden was electric in a sea of blue and orange as the New York Knicks dominated the Boston Celtics and went up 2-0 in the playoff series. Following the game we all convened in the Knicks press conference room and waited for the players to come out and give their thoughts. Newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year, JR Smith entered the room. Donned in a tuxedo jacket, T-shirt, baggy leather sweats and Jordan cement III’s, there was something different about JR besides his sense of style. He seemed subdued, astute and all business.
The press conference started and it wouldn’t be the New York Media if they didn’t throw out questions trying to draw a reaction or press worthy sound bite. But JR remained composed and answered the questions with poise and maturity. It was highly publicized before the season began that JR Smith did not want to come off the bench. He felt he was a starter and indeed he has the talent but Mike Woodson thought it best to keep him as the sixth man. “Earlier on in the year a lot of people know this, I didn’t want to come off the bench to start with”, Smith said. “But my vets did a great job of keeping me with a level head and making sure I knew it was all about the team and so it’s been paying off.” Indeed it has been paying off as Smith is averaging 22 points and 6.6 rebounds for the month of April. Smith is known for never seeing a shot he didn’t like, but he’s toned down that urge and has been attacking the basket. Of course he didn’t abandon long range shots altogether and has been hitting spectacular game winners and buzzer beaters for the Knicks.
His production and the amount of minutes he’s playing would lead one to wonder why he still isn’t a starter especially considering his talent may be better than a couple in the coveted five. “I’ve gotten over that situation, I don’t really think about it. I think there’s a reason why those guys are out there on the floor, there’s a reason why coach Woodson is doing what he’s doing, he’s been pretty good at it and it’s been effective.” He continued, “If we were losing, I’m sure it would be a different story but we’re playing great right now so I can’t complain.” I was both surprised and impressed by his answer. The old JR probably would’ve mentioned that he should be starting but instead he’s accepted his role and put the utmost faith in his coach and his team. In turn things are working out great for the Knicks thanks to him being their X-factor. How far will the Knicks get in the playoffs? Only time will tell, but JR has undoubtedly had a great year and will get paid following this season. Unfortunately his growth may prohibit the Knicks from keeping him as the offers will pour in, but I’m proud of his progression and everything that comes to him is well deserved. No longer is his off the court extra curricular activities the main source of his publicity, he’s focused and determined to be the best man he can be and right now that’s the Sixth Man of the Year.
– Shaina Auxilly (@Shay_Marie)