J.R. Smith doesn’t really play in Cleveland anymore. He’s still on the Cavaliers roster, but he hasn’t played in a game since November 19, 2018. Smith’s spent the rest of the time away from the team as they desperately try to find a trade partner for his non-guaranteed deal for this coming season. Despite his anti-climactic with Cleveland basketball team, he’s still a fan favorite among the city. His performance in the Cavs 2016 NBA Finals run was enough to make him a legend forever.
Then, of course, there was the celebration. Smith ripped off his jersey following the Cavs victory and as far as we know it wasn’t donned again for the rest of the summer. Smith had a summer long celebration of the Cavs victory and everywhere he went he had no shirt. The parade? No shirt. Downtown? No shirt. Clubs? No shirt. Vegas? No shirt. Pool? No shirt. Okay, that last one is normal, but the point is this man does not enjoy the constraints that are shirts.
So, of course, when Smith made his return to Cleveland in the MLB Celebrity Softball game on Sunday he was shirtless.
Look, when your a large part of your legend in a city is because you didn’t wear a shirt one time and fans go nuts when you are not wearing a shirt then there no reason to ever wear one again. Unless Smith is entering a building that explicitly says he has to wear one, there is no reason for him to put on said article of clothing.
Playing the role he did on the Cavs first championship, Smith will always be a beloved figure in Cleveland — even given the inauspicious ending to his time there. On Sunday, it was nice to see him bask in that adulation again, shirtless, as he was at the peak of his popularity.