Josh Smith loves the hate

Josh Smith played his best game of the postseason on Sunday. Despite taking 22 shots, Smith was a terror for the Hawks, burning the Bulls for 23 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists in a big Game 4 win in Atlanta. It was the kind of performance that makes you remember that J-Smoove really can do a Diet LeBron act from time to time.

And just like LeBron, Smith fell in love with long jumpers for some reason. Even though they weren’t falling — Smith finished 1-8 on jump shots, according to CBS — Smith kept shooting and shooting, to the point that his home crowd was groaning when he’d rise and fire. Watching at home, it was hilarious. As a Bulls fan, it was awesome.

To Smith though, it’s just indicative of his relationship with his hometown fans. They jeer him, he loves it and goes back to doing the exact same thing. Or something like that. It’s best if he explains, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Hawks forward Josh Smith wants you to believe he doesn’t hear thousands of home fans pleading with him not to shoot when he winds up from the perimeter.

“I put them on mute,” Smith said Monday, smiling.

Eventually Smith, an Atlanta native, acknowledged that he hears the fans but noted there were a lot of Bulls supporters at the game. “Those are the people saying it,” he said, still smiling. [...]

Smith said the treatment from fans “doesn’t faze me” because his teammates are supportive. He said he believes fans want him to see him play to his potential, especially since he’s a local.

“No matter what they say about me I love them,” Smith said. “I really do. It’s a love-hate thing. They hate me.”

Smith smiled before adding, “We’ve had our times but it’s sort of like a brother thing.”

That’s not quite the dictionary definition of a love-hate relationship — more like a nerd-prom queen sort of thing — but whatever. The important thing is that Josh Smith doesn’t care one bit about fans getting mad at him for shooting long jumpers because he likes shooting long jumpers. That’s a perfectly Josh Smith reaction to shooting.

Besides, Hawks fans don’t really hate Josh Smith — they just hate when he settles for shots that teams are willing to give him for a reason. It’s like getting mad at your dog because she keeps eating cat food no matter how clever your anti-cat food precautionary measures are. You don’t love your dog any less, you just don’t want her to get fat and hurt her knees, just because she loves the taste of Seaside Crunch. It is just like that, only with jump shots instead of dog joints. (This was a very personal metaphor.)

But really, you can tell Smith is having fun with this. He knows he’s better when he’s attacking. The fans know he’s better when he’s attacking. Heck, my fat dog knows he’s better when he’s attacking and she can’t even see color. If it takes a few thousand fans moaning every time he bombs away for Smith to get in head that he should go to the rim, then so be it.

Keep on him, Hawks fans. An aggressive Josh Smith is very fun to watch. Or don’t. Us Bulls fans love his ill-advised jumpers. In fact, keep quiet and let him keep shooting them. The more the merrier.