JR Smith has gone viral in the past year as he went back to school. After his 17-year NBA career, the NBA Championship-winning guard enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, where he is a member of the school’s golf team. The guard never went to college after being one of the last NBA players to be drafted straight out of high school. Smith earned a 4.0 GPA in his freshman semester and won the school’s Academic Athlete of the Year award.
Fans loved seeing the stars turn into student-athletes, and it has spawned multiple viral moments. Recently, however, Smith had another viral moment in an interview he did with Complex. As part of the interview, Smith was asked if he believed he was “blackballed” by playing in the NBA.
Smith believes that not only is he being vilified, but so are the two former Nets stars Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford.
JR Smith On Being ‘Blackballed’ From The NBA
Smith immediately answered the question about being blackballed, stating the fact that he was blackballed.
“Yes, 100%,” Smith said:. “I mean, anybody can sit here and tell you that’s and that’s a fact.”
The championship-winning shooting guard stated that if you look at other NBA rosters and players, the fourth through fifteenth best players in the current NBA rosters, he is better than them. He also cites playing with them in training sessions and conversations with GMs as another reason he believes that fact.
“You have those 30 teams,” he said. “You have the Top 3 people from those 30 teams and you exclude them. Give me the (No.) 4 through 15th men, just the 4 through 15. Name one of them who is better than me. But I’m sitting here like, bro, like, I’ve been working with these guys. I watched their GM come up to me and ask me, ‘JR, why don’t you play?’ You know why I don’t play.”
Other ‘Blackballed’ NBA Stars
Smith even went on to name other players he believes have been “blackened” in the NBA.
“I feel like a whole genre has happened,” he said. “Joe Johnson, of course, still has game, can still play. Jamal Crawford, still has game, can still play. Nick Young, still game, could still play. Isaiah Thomas, still has game, can still play.”
Not only does Smith believe he will be kept out of the league, but Crawford, Young and Isaiah Thomas all have things to contribute to an NBA roster but are prevented from playing.
It’s important to note that in addition to Thomas, all of these players are older veterans and no longer contributed in the same way they used to. Thomas is currently an NBA free agent and is expected to sign sometime before the start of the season. Johnson appeared in a game for the Boston Celtics last year when the squad was out of players due to COVID protocol. The last time we saw Nick Young was in the 2018-19 season, where he played four games for the Denver Nuggets.
Smith and every player he named could probably still contribute to an NBA franchise in one way or another. However, teams often begin to try to develop young talent rather than use that roster spot for an older veteran who is heading out of the league.