Tonight the New York Knicks head to the Barclays Center to face the Brooklyn Nets in the first chapter of New York's newest rivalry. The Knicks are off to one of their best starts in franchise history with a record of 9-3 and a lead in the Atlantic division. The Nets are right on their heels with a record of 8-4 and still have the city buzzing with excitement over the new arena.
Not everyone feels that this battle among cross-city rivals should be dubbed a "rivalry" though. One person making that argument is J.R. Smith who's averaging a career-high in points (15.5), rebounds (5.5), assists (2.8), and steals (1.6) this season. We caught up with the Knicks shooting guard to discuss why he thinks the Nets are the "JV team" of New York, Twitter drama, and his celebrity crushes.
Interview by Ralph Warner (@SoloWarnerBro)
You guys have neighbors now that the Nets are in Brooklyn. What were initial thoughts when you heard about the move?
[Being a New Jersey native] it had affected me a little bit, but at the same time the stadium wasn't getting a turnout year after year. So, I can understand the move from a business standpoint. To see them in Newark and actually having them there for the last two years, I think it was great for the state of New Jersey. A lot of kids started coming to the games even though they weren't the biggest ticket like they were back in the days.
Do you think there could be a legitimate rivalry between the Nets and Knicks?
Man, [the Nets] are like the JV team. [Laughs.] We're the varsity team, they're the JV team. They just got here, we been here, they still have to prove themselves.
Due to the lockout last season, you spent some time playing overseas in China. What was your favorite part about playing over there?
We're the varsity team, [the Nets] are the JV team.
My favorite part was just being out of the US. Just to be able to experience a different culture, a different life, to see what's really going on around the world. We take so much for granted from being over here, it’s amazing to see how people are living in other parts of the world.
Was there anything particularly difficult about playing over there?
Just the food. I couldn't adapt to the food as well. It's a night and day difference. It's hard to go out there and compete at your best when you're already playing on low fuel. [Laughs.]
What was your go-to meal out there?
KFC popcorn chicken. I was eating that everyday. [Laughs.]
Getting back to your life in the US and your current team, who's the funniest teammate that you have on the Knicks?
The funniest teammate that I have on the Knicks has to be Iman Shumpert. He is the funniest dude ever that I've come across.
Do you have any particular stories you can tell?
I mean, every day it's something new with him. [Laughs.] You never really know what to expect. One day he tells you he wants to be an astronaut in the middle of playing basketball. Then he'll say he wants to become a rapper/interior decorator/stylist.
How are his rhymes?
He's actually a great rapper. People really underestimate him, but he's really good.