Josh Smith had one of the more unfortunate quotes of the summer when he said that going to the Los Angeles Clippers would be “a little hard on” him and his family. What he actually said wasn’t that bad, but the slant the media — including us — put on it cannibalized the original intent. People thought Smith was being greedy, a multi-millionaire crying “woe is me” at the prospect of making fewer millions for one season. That was not Smith’s meaning at all. By “harder” Smith was referring to how travel, relocation and the transitory nature of a one-year contract will affect his family. Here he is explaining in the Players’ Tribune how his seemingly innocuous comments became the personification of an out-of-touch athlete:
When I was waived from Detroit this year, it meant I had to move to Houston in the middle of the year. Like any parent, you think about how your work affects your kids. You want consistency for your kids — consistent teachers, consistent friends, a consistent home. You want some normalcy for them. I wanted to go to the Clippers (that’s a business decision), but I also wanted to be sensitive to how it affected my kids (that’s a personal one). I can tell you that the conversations this offseason between me and my wife were more about where they’d go to school than about finances.
Most of us will never even sniff the amount of money Smith has made throughout his career (almost $94 million so far, according to Basketball-Reference). No, we won’t even make a fraction of that total.
But put the financial disparity between Smoove and a layperson aside for a moment. Think of Smith as just another average, middle-class employee, and it makes it much, much easier to empathize with his plight (it shouldn’t be that hard to begin with, but whatever). As Smith said, every father wants consistency for their children. Every parent wants their kids to grow up in familiar surroundings, in a supportive environment where they feel totally at home.
Unfortunately, the NBA lifestyle – the constant moving from team to team and city to city — makes this otherwise normal thing a luxury most NBA players can’t afford.