DaJuan Summers had major issues adjusting to the European lifestyle while J.J. Hickson came home after a very short stint in Israel. Now, J.R. Smith suffered a knee injury while playing in China. Life abroad is not all peachy.
The Denver Nuggets shooting guard, who has committed to playing a full season in the Chinese league after signing a one-year deal with Zhejiang, injured his knee in his first game with the Golden Bulls. Early reports said Smith suffered a “major knee injury,” but doctors confirmed that it was just a pulled quad muscle. But now the bad news. According to Jon Pastuszek of NiuBBall.com, Zhejiang officials are disenchanted with Smith and his relationship with the club is off to a rocky start after a recent Twitter war. Pastuszek wrote:
Smith’s ordeal started on Sunday night during the Golden Bulls’ opening round game on the road at Guangdong Hongyuan. Midway through the fourth quarter, Smith fell awkwardly and injured himself while trying to stop and change direction under the opposing team’s basket. In visible pain, Smith was brought to the bench to receive initial treatment. He was taken into the locker room shortly after.
After the game, Smith, who was unable to walk on his own, refused to be taken to a nearby hospital in DongGuan, insisting that he instead be taken back to the team hotel. According to a Sina Sports report, once back in the hotel, the club agreed with Smith that he would have an MRI done in Yiwu, the city where the Golden Bulls are based out of, and scheduled him to fly back with the team the next day accordingly. If results showed that there was a major injury, then Smith would be allowed to fly back to the United States to undergo the next step in the recovery process.
But early yesterday morning, team general manager, Zhao Bing, received a surprising bit of news: Smith was not going back with the team to Yiwu visit with team doctors like he had originally agreed to. Instead, he had already boarded a plane to Beijing.
The change in itinerary went directly in the face of the Zhao, who told him under no circumstances was he allowed to get on a plane out of Yiwu. Smith had made up his mind, however, and once word got back to Zhao that Smith had landed in the capital, he went on Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) to publicly warn Smith of the potential consequences for his actions.
“The club has looked into the situation and we have agreed to warn J.R. about his trip to Beijing,” Zhao tweeted. “We hope he can come back to the team as soon as possible, otherwise he will have to face the consequences.”
Soon after seeing Zhao’s comments, Smith responded on his own Sina Weibo, tweeting “My main goal is to get healthy! If you can’t understand that then maybe you should pick another profession!”
Smith won’t be able to return to the NBA soon even if the lockout ends because he is contractually obligated to his Chinese club for an entire season. This means Smith and Zhejiang are stuck with each other until March. Memo to J.R. Smith: Start learning how to tweet in Chinese.
With help from NBA247365.com, Smith, wearing No. 23, is shown here in a preseason game in which he scored 33 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 10 assists and hit the game-winning shot. Watch the video.