JR-STAR

Following the announcement of the All-Star reserves last week, Knicks fans reacted in one of two ways (if not both) – 1. Good for Tyson, it’s about time he got in… what an absolute joke that he is not a starter. 2. “How in the hell is JR Smith not on this list”.

When news broke that Rajon Rondo would miss the all star game with a torn ACL, many JR fans held their breath, hoping a late substitution would bring #Tape8 to Houston.  But alas, the self-proclaimed Basketball God, one David Tyrannical Stern, bestowed the honor upon Brooklyn Nets Center, Brook Lopez.

As they so often do, Knicks fans took their outrage to twitter: (For example) -

@iiiimani: SMHHH!!! Brook Lopez named Rajon Rondo’s injury replacement at the All-Star game. JR Smith ripped off once again…

@MichaelScovotti: Lopez to the all star game over @TheRealJRSmith?!?!?! That’s some bull%#&t!!! #knicks

@Carl LentzNYC  also, @TheREalJRSmith didn’t make the NBA all star team. Players on Horrific Teams did. NONSENSE. Gonna add fuel to his fire.

Even Teammates weighed in on Smith’s apparent snub:

@Ronnie Brewer: no disrespect on who made it but I think @The RealJRSmith was very deserving of getting an all star selection Great Player & Teammate.

@Anthony_NYK: @I_Am_Iman what do you think of JR Smith being snubbed for the All-Star game? #AllStarSnub” thas some bull man. Smh. #tape8

Perhaps no one was more disappointed than Smith himself, who has made no secret of his desire to be an All-Star –  an honor he feels he deserves.  When the announcement came that Lopez, not Smith, would fill the East’s Rondo-Void, the often verbose tweeter was reduced to a simple hashtag: @TheRealJRSmith: #WOW.

From a sensationalist, non-numerical standpoint, the dramatic displeasure over Smith’s omission from the elite squad appears to be warranted. JR’s flare for the dramatic has resulted in a couple of salsa-inducing buzzer beaters and multiple clutch baskets (most recently a Three-to-the-Dome in Beantown).  Indeed, the apparent ice in his veins is symbolized on his right shoulder, by a tattoo of a solemn, one-eyed teddy bear floating in the deep dark water below an ice fishing hole (Not Verified). But it’s not just his timely hooping that, as Clyde would say, has Knicks fans paying homage to their hero JR.   Smith’s game has been noticeably different this season- He has shored up his defensive effort, demonstrated a patience with the ball that fans and critics alike never fathomed was possible, and he has even, at times, adopted a pass first mentality. (Well actually its more like a “Shoot first but MAAAYBE just MAAAYBE pass, and only to Steve Novak, and ONLY if he is wide open, but hey at least I toyed with the idea of just possibly, on the off chance, passing” mentality. )

So often had Knicks fans heard that if JR were to only change his ways, to stop tweeting photos of butts, he could be an all-star.  Now, the slight and evident adjustments to his game have every New Yorker proclaiming that JR is, well, an ALL STAR. (HEDIDWHATYOUTOLDHIMTO-SORTOF-NOWMAKEHIMANALLSTAR!!!)

But of course, for every fan hooting and hollering about JR not making the all star team, there are those who believe JR has no business donning an East Jersey.  Once again, a sampling of twitter prove this to be true:

@BillSimmons : Shaq +Barkley think JR Smith should have made the All-Star team.  He’s shooting 39% in December/ January, 28 % on 3’s. That’s just perplexing.

@RMorann: JR Smith shoots like 38%. There’s no way he should have made the all star team over lopez.

@JoeandEvan: Hey maybe if TheRealJRSmith shot above 40% from the field he would have been an all star

He should make it . He shouldn’t make it. His tattoos should make it… Just like that, the question of “what makes one deserving of an all star spot” became the much-needed , at least for for radio hosts, winter edition of the insufferable and never-ending debates  “what is an MVP” and “Should player X be in the Hall of Fame”.

Well, because this argument is completely subjective, I’m gonna throw my hat in the ring and offer what, for me, makes an all-star, and why JR Smith should not be in the game. (Knicks fans hang in there- I love me some Tape8)

Given that the All Star game is a showcase of the leagues talent, I would argue that an All-Star is a player whose talent is universally respected. You can hate Kobe, but you simply cannot deny that his turnaround J is absurd and all things amazing. The experience of watching Kobe doing work, to steal a Spike Lee title, is an experience owned by all fans.  You can hate the decision, but you’re lying if you’ve never said “oh my …wow” as a result of watching Lebron. Similarly, nobody loves Melo more than the patrons of MSG, but all basketball fans can appreciate his game. Not to mention, anyone in the world can own a pair of Melo 9’s.

But the JR Smith experience is not universal. Nay. It is deeply woven into the fabric New York Knicks fandom.

When JR. returned from China, only one team wanted him, along with his little plus one on the top of his head. (Seriously what the hell was that creature?)

Since then, NY has shared a unique bond with Smith. This past summer, Smith looked past other FA options and chose to stay in NY.

–“I just felt that, despite my other options, New York is the best situation for me,” Smith said in a statement. “Coach Mike Woodson showed a lot of faith and trust in me last season. My teammates are great to play with and the New York fans are the best.”http://offthedribble.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/j-r-smith-to-re-sign-with-knicks/–

His faint Goatee is likely a nod to his coach, Mike Woodson- he of the glorious goatee- the only coach who has ever encouraged JR to outshoot Yosemite Sam.

He drains buzzer beaters, embraces knicktape, and, as we all know, defends home court better than any other Knick. (Where You At Kris Humphries??)

His inconsistency – the NO YES NOOOO YES experience of rooting for him night in and night out – makes JR Smith a player that only Knicks fans have learned to appreciate.  Only by watching him every game do you learn to manage your expectations for Smith and, paradoxically, expect him to exceed the very limited expectations you just set.

The possibility that Smith could shoot 1-14 in the All Star game is through the roof.  But only Knicks fans would appreciate the sheer hilarity of an off night in Houston for JR, if only because it all but guarantees a JR scoring explosion in the very near future. That’s just what watching JR is all about.

Smith does not need to be subjected to the ridiculing eye of the casual NBA fan in Houston.  The only fan base big enough and obscure enough to embrace Smith and his antics is not down south but right here in the Big Apple.

You want Smith in the All-Star game? You Can’t Handle It.