Alas, perhaps sweet, sweet dunkage wasn’t meant to be. During his first game of the new CBA season against the Guangdong Southern Tigers in Dongguan, J.R. Smith of the Zhejiang Golden Bulls (and formerly of the Denver Nuggets), is now out of action indefinitely with an injured right knee.
Meaning that an entire season’s worth of highlight dunks, whereby great embarrassment and self-reckoning was to reign over opponents’ heads, as J.R. soared through mainland gyms, is now in jeopardy.
It’s pretty much a worst-case scenario for J.R., seeing as a serious injury will hamper not only his prospects in China, but also his plans for eventually returning statesid after the NBA lockout ends.
Though video of the incident (at 0:25 in this video) shows that no other player was really near Smith at the time of his injury, we can imagine that some tinfoil hat-types will say the CBA put a hit-job out on J.R. in order to save face.
Smith looked well on his way to achieving his stated goal of scoring a triple-double in every game, after going for 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists (all of which came in only two quarters of action) in his first preseason game back in late October.
The conspiracy theories regarding the cause of the injury might include accusations that the team conditioning was lacking, or that J.R.’s regular Nikes were switched out with a faulty lookalike pair. Other potential culprits might include the local soy-based diet, excessive pollution, or the thread-count in his hotel blanket being insufficient, thus leading to J.R.’s downfall.
Smith has no history of injuries in his right knee, though J.R. missed a month’s worth of action back in 2007, after injuring his left knee in his first season with the Nuggets.
Get well soon, Earl. Hopefully the team doctors go Indiana Jones on some misty mountain ranges, to get secret medicinal herbs to speed your recovery!
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Smith and the Golden Bulls’ general manager are now in a spat, after Smith refused team medical attention, opting instead to leave the team in Dongguan to travel to Beijing instead:
“We would like to improve ourselves through learning from the NBA players,” Zhejiang’s Mr. Zhao said of his star player’s refusal to heed the team’s medical protocols. “That was just the first game of the season. He really didn’t have to behave like this.”
Mr. Zhao posted a warning to Mr. Smith on Sina Weibo on Monday afternoon, saying the player should return to team as soon as possible “or face the consequences.” Mr. Smith responded in English less than an hour later, “My main goal is to get healthy! If you can’t understand that then maybe you should pick another profession!”
He added that his goal is “not to leave! My goal is to win!”