JR Smith talks self-sabotage, golf and the need for a black collective economy

Former NBA champion JR Smith has been on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth since stepping away from professional basketball. After winning his second NBA title with LeBron James during the season of the covid-19 pandemic, Smith found himself at a crossroads.

He last played an NBA game in November 2018 before joining the Los Angeles Lakers midway through the 2019-20 season. However, his second break from court was different, leading him on a mission of self-discovery and self-improvement. In the process, he found a new passion for golf and is now hinting at a potential return to the NBA.

“That’s what I feel more than anything — it was hard for me to grasp because I felt like I was moving away from the game,” he said in an interview while discussing his first major production project, Redefined: JR Smith,” “Redefined.”

Four-part documentaries produced by James i Maverick Carter under their Uninterrupted entertainment brand, will premiere April 4 on Amazon Prime.

He revealed that he is not sure what he will do with life after basketball.

He told The Post, “And then it was just like. ‘What am I doing? I have to figure this out. As if this couldn’t be life after basketball. That’s it. Am I going to do this for the rest of my life?’”

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“That’s what I feel more than anything – it was hard for me to understand because I felt like I was leaving the game,” he said in an interview with New York Post discussing his first major production project, “Redefined: JR Smith,” a documentary about his journey.

When his journey to the NBA began, he says he was not ready for success and fame.

“I just wish I was more mature at the time, as opposed to having such a youthful spirit,” Smith said, adding, “I was 18, but I was more — in a more mature sense — I was 13,” he recalled to The New York Times.

He spent 16 seasons in the NBA, playing in various cities for several teams – from New Orleans and Denver to New York, Cleveland and Los Angeles. During his career, he had moments of triumph mixed with controversy, such as a suspension for throwing soup at an assistant coach and fines from the league for sharing what they deemed “inappropriate images” on Twitter. He is the winner of the prestigious sixth man of the year award.

He admits that he squandered his money, visiting clubs, spending large amounts of cash on clothing and using the $90 million salary he earned over 16 NBA seasons to pay fines imposed by his teams or the league. I am an athlete podcasthosted by former NFL player Brandon Marshall, CNBC reported.

Now he says he wishes he had spent more giving back to his community.

“I could have fed my whole community 10 times over with the money I just (paid tickets for) being late on the bus,” Smith said in the February episode I am an athlete podcasthosted by former NFL player Brandon Marshall.

“You know how many people you can change (their) lifestyle with $10 million in our area?” Smith said. “We’d rather throw $60,000 at a strip club…than feed 2,500 people in the hood.”

While Smith, 37, initially struggled with the idea of ​​continuing to play basketball.

He soon found different ways to stay connected to him. Smith discovered a passion for teaching the game, particularly through small one-on-one practices with high school students.

“You find out where you can influence the game, whether it’s not just playing, but scouting, coaching… advising on situations, training, coaches. There are so many different elements of the game that you can really influence. And for me, I found a passion doing little one-on-ones with high school kids and things like that, and I still feel the satisfaction I got from hooping,” he told The Post.

Smith is open about how he went through a period of self-sabotage after his second championship win. He spent his days playing games, playing golf and struggling to find direction. Eventually, he realized that he needed to break this cycle and explore new avenues for personal growth.

At one point he went to rehab and that’s when his therapeutic experience began. “I was in a marijuana rehab program at the time,” Smith told The Post when asked about the “commitment” to attending therapy. “And that was part of the condition, going to therapy.

“And it was like ‘man, I had to do all this because I smoked weed. And it was almost like I was treating it like it’s like crack cocaine… I say ‘you do, it seems like… I’m on meth or some old bro. So I go to therapy with all these people and with all these different people, and it’s such a strange environment and experience for therapy,” he recalled to The Post. “And it really wasn’t the best experience for me because it’s a different experience for a black man to go to therapy. And for this to be my first experience, it was like, is this such a serious situation?”

Smith said he is currently in therapy and advocating for it.

“When I really broke it down to how much I was just sabotaging myself and feeling sorry for myself, so many different things. You have to get back on your horse somehow. And for me, it started slowly for a year, and then a little bit, before I knew it, one step in front of the other, it just went its own way,” he told The Post.

One notable aspect of Smith’s post-NBA life was his pursuit of education. He enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, with the goal of earning a degree in Liberal Arts. Smith’s return to the classroom was not without its challenges, as he struggled with dyslexia and ADHD.

He also said that a process of self-discovery led to the discovery of his heritage and the theory of the black collective economy.

“I’ve always wanted to learn about my heritage, find out where I came from, learn more about black people,” Smith said. “It really turned into loving yourself, learning more about yourself. That’s really what catapulted me back into therapy, to try to understand, and to try to really master myself, and master my mind.”

And that also means valuing your community as well as uplifting it, he pointed out.

“We are so trained, so ingrained that we have this Eurocentric mindset, that we take care of ourselves, take care of ourselves, take care of ourselves,” he said. “When you make more than $100 million in your career, will (giving away $5 or $10 million) change your lifestyle?”

Despite accepting new endeavors, Smith has not officially retired from the NBA. He remains open to the possibility of returning to the league if the right opportunity presents itself. He continued to train and stay in shape, ready to answer the call of any NBA team.

JR Smith (photo via Instagram, @teamswish)

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