Surprise, surprise — Jonathan Abrams wrote another awesome piece on the NBA for Grantland. It’s like a really good version of a Jam of the Month club, where we get to learn about some of the lesser-known players in the NBA once a month, which is to say it is way better.
This time it’s about J.R. Smith and how he ended up so J.R. Smith-y. (SPOILER ALERT: It’s because he’s just like his dad, who said he taught J.R. defense last because “you can make it without defense.”) And while you should most definitely read the entire thing because it is the usual awesome stuff you’ve come to expect, let’s just enjoy this little bit about how J.R. Smith was apparently an amazing high school football player.
Smith also prospered on Lakewood’s football team, where he played all over the field — wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, safety, even quarterback — saved two games with field goal blocks, scored a deciding touchdown on a blocked kick, and routinely caught touchdown passes on soaring fade routes with one hand.
“He obviously made the right decision to concentrate on basketball,” said Nick Eremita, Lakewood’s coach at the time. “But I coached high school football for over 20 years and without a doubt, he’s an NFL-type player.”
Clemson offered Smith a football scholarship based solely on watching his game film, something that didn’t surprise his coaches. Dave Oizerowitz, Lakewood’s offensive coordinator at the time, likened Smith to “a more athletic and probably a faster Plaxico Burress.”
Well, that certainly explains how he made this look so easy.
Also, not very surprising that J.R. Smith would make for a very, very good high school football player. He’s so athletic that he seems athletic in the NBA, which is quite the accomplishment. And while his predraft 3/4-court sprint time of 3.21 seconds only translates to a 5.46 second 40-yard dash (though you have to imagine he’d pick up speed if he ran a little longer), he’s still very fast. Plus, at 6-foot-7 he’d be giant for a receiver in the NFL, so just imagine him playing against 5-foot-8 corners who play football to impress chicks. It’s almost absurdly easy to imagine J.R. Smith dominating a high school football game.
But now there’s one obvious problem — there are no J.R. Smith football highlights on YouTube. We’ve seen LeBron, Allen Iverson and Nate Robinson destroying in high school, so you know they have to exist somewhere. Let’s see ‘em, internet.