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J.R. Smith feels he’s been blackballed from the NBA

BMW Championship - Previews

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - AUGUST 17: JR Smith on the 11th hole during the Pro-Am prior to the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club on August 17, 2022 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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J.R. Smith played in close to 1,000 NBA games across 16 seasons, was a two-time NBA champion and won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2013. He had a full and impressive NBA career.

Smith, 36, and now a student and golfer at North Carolina A&T, doesn’t think that career should be over — Smith told Pierce Simpson at Complex Sports he has been blackballed from the NBA. And he is not alone.

When asked if he feels he was blackballed from the NBA, J.R. was as candid as he can be.

“Yeah, 100 percent,” he says. “Anybody can sit here and tell you that that’s a fact.”

“Blackballed” is a strong word. It implies a nefarious plot to keep Smith out of the game, as well as Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, Nick Young and Joe Johnson. Unfortunately, in each of those cases, a combination of father time and/or injuries caused the players to become less efficient, not to be quite the same players they were throughout their careers. While maybe they only lost half a step, in the cutthroat world of the NBA that’s enough to lose your job and be on the outside looking in. The NBA can be a cold business.

In Smith’s case, it’s not fair that an impressive NBA career can get overshadowed — too many fans remember him for his lowest moment. Smith is much more than that.

Which is why it’s worth reading the entire Complex story on Smith, and how Ray Allen helped him pivot to playing golf (and, with that, going to college again). Smith is more than just a former basketball player, and deserves to be remembered for all that as well.