Ibinulgar ng beteranong si JR Smith na dumaan daw ito sa “depressed state” matapos ang mahigit isang taon nitong hindi paglalaro ng basketball.
Kung maaalala, umalis sa Cleveland Cavaliers noong 2018 si Smith, dahil sa ilang mga isyu sa koponan.
Kuwento ni Smith, dumating daw sa puntong nawalan na ito ng ganang maglaro ng video games, at maging ng basketball na tumagal daw ng ilang buwan.
“I went through a very depressed state for a long time,” Smith said Monday (Tuesday, Manila time). “I’m a big video gamer, (but) I didn’t even play (NBA) 2K anymore. I don’t want to hoop, I don’t want to work out, I don’t want to play 2K, I don’t want do anything with basketball.”
Pero laking tuwa raw ng veteran shooter nang kunin ito ng Lakers bilang kapalit ni Avery Bradley, na tunangging maglaro sa nalalabing bahagi ng season bunsod ng personal na isyu.
“I was gone for a while,” ani Smith. “Being somebody who has been around the league predominantly for most of their adult life, when that’s taken away from you, it kind of gives you that culture shock. You obviously don’t understand what you’ve lost until it’s gone. I just want to appreciate the moment for what it is, and whether it be next year or never again, I just want to enjoy every possible moment that I get.”
Sa panig naman ni Lakers coach Frank Vogel, napabilib daw ito kay Smith dahil napanatili nito ang kanyang kalusugan kahit na free agent ito ng matagal na panahon.
“I think this is really a great story,” sambit ni Vogel. “When you look at a guy who could potentially be out of the league and was a starter on a Finals team a couple years back, a champion, for him to have the perseverance to stay ready and give himself this opportunity, I think is to be commended.”
Hindi pa matukoy sa kasalukuyan kung mabibigyan ng matagal na playing time si Smith sunod kina Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at Alex Caruso, na posibleng punan ang karamihan sa oras ni Bradley.
Pero sinasabi ng mga tagapagmasid na makikinabang ang Lakers sa abilidad ni Smith, na may career 37.3% shooting sa 3-pointers.
“Hey, his nickname is ‘Swish’ for a reason, right?” ani Vogel kay Smith. “He’s a shot-maker, a big-time shot-maker. I think he’s really going to help us.”
Maliban dito, malaking bagay din ang pagiging pamilyar ni Smith kay LeBron James, kung saan naging magkakampi pa sila sa Cleveland Cavaliers nang madagit nito ang kampeonato noong 2016, at makapasok sa apat na sunod-sunod na NBA Finals.
“There’s people that are not going to know how to deal with it,” wika ni Smith sa pagiging competitive ni James. “It comes off in the wrong way sometimes, and you need that bridge as a player to be able to go to the next player and be like, ‘Listen man, it’s nothing personal. (It’s not about) who was right, who was wrong.’ It’s just a good balance, I think, between myself and him, because he knows just as well he can challenge anybody else, I’ll challenge him, and vice versa.”