NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — LeBron James is rightfully getting a majority of the praise for bringing a championship to Cleveland, but a former New York Knick is getting a lot of attention.
CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported our vision of J.R. Smith has been shaded by what we saw of him in a Knicks uniform. To us he’s seen as a selfish player who never saw a shot he didn’t like, but last night, after winning the NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers, we saw a different side of Smith.
“My parents, my family have been the biggest inspiration of my life. I’ve been in a lot of dark spots in my life and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been able to get out of it,” an emotional Smith said Sunday night following the Cavaliers Game 7 win over the Golden State Warriors.
These dark spots were often self-inflicted, his social media content has been questionable and he’s been suspended for fighting and even fined for untying an opponent’s shoes during a game, but behind him through every emotional outburst were his parents.
“They always stuck by my side, no matter right or wrong. And I know a lot of people don’t have their parents in their life, their mother or their father, but I got the best two I can ask for,” Smith said.
Smith is far from perfect, but he’s no longer measured by behavior that’s erratic, or a demeanor that’s prickly. Now he’s a world champion who was overcome with emotion on Father’s Day.
“My dad is easily one of my biggest inspirations to play this game. To hear people talk bad about me it hurts me because I know it hurts him and it’s not who I am,” Smith said.
After 12 years in the NBA, Smith still seems to enjoy being unpredictable as he exited the Cavs plane Monday morning shirtless.
Smith’s career in Cleveland, however, could best be summed up by his 7-year-old daughter.
“I’m just proud of him because he made the championship without getting kicked off the team,” Demi Smith told ESPN.
Smith isn’t the only New Jersey native on the world champion Cavaliers. Elizabeth’s own Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning shot.
The Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to come back and win the championship after being down three games to one in the series.