Well, this is awesome.
Over at The Cauldron, an offshoot of medium.com, J. R. Smith has written an essay about his trade from the New York Knicks to the Cavs. What Smith has done in his time in Cleveland has surpassed nearly all expectations. After really struggling early on in the year, he has completely changed the way he plays. Gone, for the most part, are the failed attempts at creation. Down, in a major way, are the amount of midrange jump shots he takes each game. Way up is the percentage of his shots coming from three point range.
He covers a wide range of topics, talking warmly about Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. I've provided a couple excerpts below, but you should read the whole thing. The things that stood out to me involved Kevin Love, and Smith's work ethic.
Here's the section on Love:
And forget what anyone says, Kevin Love is the ultimate teammate. He isn’t the most athletic player out there — actually, Kevin is like that guy you see in a 40-and-up league just killing it because he knows the game better than anyone else out there. Mentally, Love is just in another stratosphere when it comes to understanding basketball. Plus, not only is he an underrated shooter who can knock shots down better than half the guards in the league, he is also the best rebounder I have played with, hands down.
More important than what you notice about Love’s game, though, is what you don’t. He does all of the little things a team needs to win, and that sort of stuff trickles down to each and every one of us, including me. Guys like him make you want to play harder. They help you keep your focus and intensity, because if he’s doing it night in and night out with smarts, heart and determination, well … what’s your excuse? Put it this way: If I had a son grow up to be a big man, you better believe he’d be enrolled in Kevin Love’s summer camp.
The other part that I liked was Smith's section talking about misconceptions about him as a person and player. Smith's reputation as a guy who likes to go out and have fun - it is what it is. But the idea that he isn't a hard worker, I just really don't buy that. Lots of guys go out and still work really hard at their game. You don't shoot like Smith does without putting the time and effort in.
There have been unfair rumors that lead people to have misconceptions about me: that I don’t care; that I don’t take my job seriously; that I am not committed to my craft. It’s unfortunate, but people have been saying this about me during my entire career. It obviously bothers me and naturally would bother anyone to feel that people don’t take you seriously as a person. I see it in media commentary during each season, and I experience it firsthand when I’m on the golf course in the offseason, everywhere. Then after 18 holes, or lunch, or a meeting, without fail, someone tells me I am a completely different person than who they perceived me to be.
Again, you should go read the whole thing. I've been pleasantly surprised by J.R. We will see if he can keep it up.