J.R. Smith has always been an enigma in the NBA. One of the last players drafted out of high school, Smith entered the NBA as one of the most streaky shooters imaginable. Sixteen years later and Smith is still a somewhat reliable presence in the NBA, although he’s only played in a handful of games the last two years. Still, there’s a darker side to Smith; he’s been arrested more than any other active NBA player.
J.R. Smith on the basketball court
Smith was just 18 years old when the New Orleans Hornets drafted him in 2004. Smith had some concerns off the court coming out of high school as he headed to the league. On the court, however, he had the makings of a potential star. While he might not have ever realized that potential, Smith was one of the deadliest shooters in the league when he was feeling it.
However, after two years in New Orleans, he found a new home playing alongside Carmelo Anthony in Denver. There, Smith made the leap from promising young player to bonafide NBA. Talent. Coming off the bench, Smith was one of the best sixth-men that the NBA had to offer. While the Nuggets failed to have much postseason success, they were one of the better teams in the western conference for much of his time in Denver.
Smith’s glory years
After spending part of the 2011-12 season overseas in China during the lockout, Smith found a new home in New York, reports SB Nation. With the Knicks, Smith reunited with Anthony to play some of the best basketball of his career. He won the league’s sixth-man of the year in 2012-13 after putting up 18 points per game.
By 2015, however, Smith was on the move again. This time, he was next to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. At his best, Smith was a valuable piece of the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship run. At his worst, his penchant for boneheaded at the wrong moment hurt the team in some of its biggest moments. His gaffe against the Warriors in 2018 became a meme after he forgot the score to James’s chagrin.
These last two years have been quiet for Smith. After spending most of the 2018-19 season on the bench, Smith signed with the Los Angeles Lakers as they entered the Orlando Bubble. He saw minimal meaningful playing time with the Lakers, but they did get him a second ring. Now, his future is in question. His off-court persona could be a significant reason why.
J.R. Smith’s off-the-court issues
As beloved as Smith is by many NBA fans, his off-the-court record has always been a cause for concern, as NBA Crime Record details. In 2007, he ran a stop sign and hit another vehicle. While Smith only had minor injuries, a friend in the car passed away. Smith was arrested for and later convicted of reckless driving.
While this may have been an unfortunate tragedy on its own, it kicked off a concerning pattern. He was arrested again for disturbing the peace at a nightclub several months later, although details are murky.
In one of the stranger arrests in league history, Smith was picked up for operating a scooter on a Miami Beach without a license in 2011. Although it was a minor charge, Smith was later arrested for failing to appear in court. His most recent arrest, which occurred in 2018, happened when Smith allegedly grabbed a phone from a fan who was filming him and broke it after the fan refused to put it down.
These five arrests do not define Smith, but they help show why he will always have a cause for concern with his presence. Still, Smith has had a great career as a valuable role player, and his 16-season career and counting show this. If this is it for him, these arrests are, unfortunately, part of his legacy, too.