Hold on, let me duct tape my eyes in place so they don't roll out of my head on this post.
After Knicks guard J.R. Smith was benched vs. Miami, leading to him questioning what his future was with the team, he returned to the rotation in the Knicks' win over Philadelphia Saturday night. And was brilliant. Smith scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting with six assists. After the game, Smith told reporters he's learned from the whole experience.
From ESPN New York:
"Don't goof around, I guess. Be serious. Be a professional. And just don't take this opportunity here you have for granted," he said. "There's a lot of people in this world that want our jobs. You can't take it for granted. It can be taken away just that fast."
"I thought he was a real pro tonight, man, despite everything that's going on," Carmelo Anthony said. "For him to bounce back the way he did today and obviously put that stuff behind him and move forward, that was big-time for him as a person."
"This is a situation that really opened his eyes up, he looked himself in the mirror and hopefully he wants to change, he's got to change," Anthony said. "It's up to him now."
"It's the worst feeling in the world," Smith said of getting benched.
(Coach Mike) Woodson called Smith "unprofessional" and said that the shooting guard needed to "grow up."
"He's been telling me that since I got here," Smith said Saturday morning. "Honestly, 'growing up,' I don't know if I really understand the true meaning of it."
OK. So the last quote's actually not that bad. You don't really understand what growing up means before you do it. Of course, most people do it before age 28, where Smith's at. But that's understandable. It's a non-quantifiable element. You can't really guide what that is, you just have to do it and learn what it is by doing it.
And maybe Smith has changed. Maybe the suspensions, fines warnings from the league, constant batterings from the media and his coach, and trade threats didn't get through to him, but not playing in a game he was active for really got through to him.
Well, no, I don't believe that. Sorry, Smith has a prolific history of disrespect and immaturity. He has always spoken about changing his tune and becoming a pro. The Knicks lauded Smith last year, saying he'd changed. Then he got suspended in the playoffs, went out partying during his suspension, shot an abysmal percentage and dressed in black "for a funeral" before a playoff game they didn't win. One good night against the Sixers isn't going to turn things around.
But look, everyone has their moment, and Woodson needs to be praised for (finally, finally) holding Smith accountble for his hijinx. Maybe this really is the beginning of a new J.R. Smith.
Crap, duct tape fell off. I'll be back.