JR Smith opens up about the impact LeBron James had on him
JR Smith has had a strange and turbulent NBA career. The veteran shooting guard has been mostly the punchline for jokes during his professional tenure in the Association, but he finally had his moment in the sun when he helped LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers capture the franchise’s first championship in 2016, downing the Golden State Warriors after a 3-1 deficit proved nearly lethal to the Cavs’ title chances.
Since then, however, Smith has had a rough go of it. He was released by the Cavaliers in July of this year and has yet to find a new team as a free agent to call home.
While many though Smith, 34, would join James out in Los Angeles with the Lakers, no move has been made. Nevertheless, Smith is still grateful for LeBron’s lasting impact on his life and professional career.
Smith spoke about his relationship with James and the future Hall of Fame forward’s impact on his life while speaking to Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
“His work ethic and his drive changed my life. I looked at it from a different perspective, I was always a person who worked … I was so insecure of my game that I didn’t really want people to see.
“He helped me. ‘There’s a reason why you’re here.’ He pounded that s— into my head so much that every day I was at the gym like three, four times a day.”
— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) October 28, 2019
Smith was a first-round pick in the 2004 NBA Draft coming out of high school and previously had won the Sixth Man of the Year honors as a member of the New York Knicks. He landed in Cleveland in a three-team deal in January 2015, eventually winning a title alongside James and All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving the next season.