The Lakers now appear to have their roster in place for the season’s reopening in Orlando, following the decisions from Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard to not return and to return, respectively. In response to Bradley’s decision to not return, the Lakers decided to sign J.R. Smith who they had been connected to since as early as February. Smith obviously has a connection to LeBron James from their Cleveland Cavaliers days, and his quickly made impressions on Frank Vogel in the small amount of time he’s been able to watch him work.
Smith hasn’t actually played a basketball game since November 19th, 2018, giving some doubt as to what the 34-year-old can bring to the Los Angeles Lakers come playoff time. Either way, Smith is just happy to be back, as he expanded on his mental state in the nearly two years of absence from the NBA (h/t Christian Rivas of Silver Screen & Roll for the transcription).
“I went through a very depressed state for a long time,” Smith said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “It lasted for a few months … I’m a big video gamer, and I didn’t even want to play 2K anymore. (It was like) I don’t want to hoop, I don’t want to work out, I don’t want to do anything with basketball. Just depression because something that I love and that I enjoyed for so long, from my aspect of going from playing at the highest level (was gone). Especially when you feel your career is not quote unquote ‘over’ and it’s still premature, it was tough. It was extremely tough. Fortunately, I’ve got a great foundation with my parents. My dad has always been on me, and on me and on me about what I’ve accomplished, and what I still have left in the tank,” Smith continued. “If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably still be in that situation.”
It seems as though every NBA player plays NBA 2K. You may have never considered what it’d be like to be an NBA player not on a team, constantly being reminded by the video game you’re playing that certain people believe these players are much better than you.
Smith further expanded on his mental state once he got out of that funk, saying this:
“I just got to the point where it was like, ‘I’m not going to ask anymore,’” Smith said. “Whenever somebody calls, they’ll call me, and I’ll keep my head down and keep working.”
Shout out to J.R. Smith. People can meme the Henny God all they want but it’s hard to disrespect his NBA pedigree at this point (even if it might be as a result of playing with LeBron James). He has now been to four NBA Finals, and his one ring to his name, an NBA resumé that would be hard to find attributed to anyone in the NBA these days.
Welcome back, J.R.