During the offseason, Knicks president Phil Jackson put several of his former players on blast in a candid interview with ESPN. There were shots taken at Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert, but perhaps the most damaging were aimed at J.R. Smith.
"J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether," Jackson explained. "We talked about his statement to the press that our shooting guard depth was going to be the team's asset, but so far it hadn't worked out that way. He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit, and he wasn't doing his job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn't really respond. He's a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up. But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal."
Smith now plays for the Cavaliers, and with his team in New York to face the Knicks on Friday, ESPN's Ian Begley asked him about Jackson's remarks.
"It was crazy to me because I try to leave my personal life on the side and when somebody sits there, sits behind a desk and tells you to open up on what’s going on with you, you’re thinking that’s going to be between the two of y'all,” Smith said in an interview with ESPN.com on Friday morning. “So, for me, it tells me something I already knew. But to come from someone like Phil, it's just, it’s crazy. It makes you not want to tell anybody anything [that has] anything to do with your business. It was tough, but that’s how he handles stuff, that’s how he does it." ...
Smith was asked on Friday if he thought Jackson’s disclosure of a private conversation would be questioned by others in the NBA.
“I’ve talked to a few people and they don’t understand why he did it, but I definitely won’t have that conversation with anybody else after that. So it just stuck with me. It’s all right,” Smith said.
Jackson has a history of using the media to motivate his players, but it is a bit unusual for a team president to give out personal information like this once guys are no longer part of their organization. So in this case, Smith is absolutely right to be upset that Jackson betrayed his confidence.
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