“Do you ever wonder what it would be like to play like JR for a game?”https://t.co/IDnIEcOwIM
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 5, 2016
J.R. Smith is an unapologetic gunner, and he has been since entering the league in 2004. Through ten years, it didn’t look like he had changed much, and he was mostly stuck on bad teams that resented his carefree attitude. Now, the league has changed to emphasize three-point shooting more, J.R. found himself on a team with LeBron James, and all is right in the world, because in LeBron’s words, Smith has “the ultra-green light, it’s like fluorescent.”
James was asked how it would feel to play like his shooting guard does, and he responded how we all would: “It would be pretty cool.”
It’s understandable, because the one word that has defined LeBron’s second tenure in Cleveland above all has been responsibility. He’s taken on more than perhaps any player in NBA history in building and maintaining this team, and in last year’s playoffs he took on an incomprehensible amount after Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love went down and the Cavs still swept the Conference Finals before his fifth consecutive trip to the championship round. Responsibility weighs on LeBron in a way it never has on J.R. — and for the Cavs’ purposes, that’s great.
Sure, Smith’s volume of 3-point attempts (he’s taken at least seven threes in every game of this postseason) can be damaging when he’s cold. But in the pressure cooker that has been Cleveland these past two years, having someone on the team who just shoots (and shoots, and shoots) without being weighed down by the expectations, the media swarm, the locker-room discomfort and all those other external factors that so often plague a LeBron team, is refreshing. It’s enough to make LeBron look at J.R. and think, “Man, it would be cool to play like that guy” — the same thing so many people say about the King himself.