It’s truly sad when an ex-player turns on a fan base. Fans can be harsh and often times cruel, but they are also the ones who give the most reinforcement: heaping fervent praise on a player as they do nothing more but perform well for a sports team. So when the fans, who are admittedly a large portion of drunken idiots, get blamed for a player’s divorce from a team, it seems pretty unfair.
JR Smith took a shot at the Denver Nuggets organization, its coach and most curiously the fans in a recent retweet documented here by ace Nuggets beat reporter Benjamin Hochman. I can understand Smith’s frustration with George Karl and Nuggets management during his time here, but claiming lack of support from the “city” he played in is puzzling. A fan base may deserve some scorn along the way, but in this case it seems unwarranted and petty. Ladies and gentlemen, JR Smith!
Smith was just as frustrating to deal with as a fan as I’m sure it was for George Karl to coach him. But when he was on, he was well loved. When he was off? Well, after a few seasons we had all grown accustomed to his quirks and just waited for him to get back in a groove again. I’m sure he had his naysayers in Denver – most sports figures do – but Nuggets fans generally liked Smith and the idea that anyone was glad to see him go is false. The fact that it was indeed probably time for him to go was unfortunately true. With many athletes, when the bloom is off the rose, no amount of Miracle Grow is going to get the good times back. Smith’s time was up in Denver, but his departure certainly wasn’t applauded.
As Hochman pointed out, Smith has flourished in New York and it could be attributed to the fact that he’s curbed his late night partying which in turn could have nudged him into growing up a little bit. That will do wonders for your concentration, especially when it comes to being coached by a hard ass who makes much, much less money than you do. In Smith’s case, the more mature thing to admit would have been that he has grown by all of the good influences in his new city affecting him in a positive way. Not that a coach, management and a fan base from his old team were to blame. Smith might have matured, but not seeing the real problem and blaming the people no longer in your life is a sure sign that he’s got a long way to go.
Fans shouldn’t be to blame when something doesn’t work out. Ok, maybe in a city like Philadelphia, but not in Denver. I’m sure Kyle Orton has nothing but bad feelings for his time here in Denver, but as a seemingly mature adult male, I haven’t heard him venting in this way. Fans can be brutish louts sometimes, but they aren’t the problem: the player and his relationship with the team is the issue. Fans can compound that but they end up being the easy scapegoat because they will be the first to open their mouths and the loudest ones to do so. Josh Kroenke isn’t going to get on drive time radio this afternoon and talk about what a head case JR Smith is. We would all think it was great radio, but it’s just not going to happen.
So JR Smith continues to alienate a fan base that while not specifically rooting for his new team, would have been rooting for him to succeed. But now, after taking it out on ticket buyers who don’t have a say in who stays and who goes, he may have just closed the book on the final chapter of Nuggets fans wishing him well. Should the fans be blamed for how it turned out? Probably not. But the bigger question might be, should JR Smith just grow the fuck up? Probably yes. He may have matured enough to realize he has a lot of talent that was going to waste, but if he’s still acting like a child who can’t see his major role in why he was run out of Denver, a great shooting percentage won’t be able to fill that void in this troubled young man’s psyche.