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.
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You're pretty active on Twitter and you interact with fans from time to time. The most notable being your invitation to an impromptu bike ride through New York at 2 a.m. during the offseason. How did that come about?
My brother, really. He was like, "Yo, we should ride these bikes in the city." So, I'm thinking he's talking about next week or something. He's like "We should ride them right now." So I put it on Twitter, and before you know it a bunch of people came. They were just at The Garden taking pictures, a bunch of people were outside of Foot Locker waiting for the shoe release. It was a good time.
I'm not the smartest person on Twitter; I'm definitely not the dumbest either.
What are the best and worst parts of being a celebrity on Twitter?
The best part of being a celeb on Twitter is just the power of my followers. I mean my followers made somebody delete their page one time, so that was pretty big. I only have 160K, now imagine Kim Kardashian who has 16 million or Justin Bieber people, it’s crazy.
Do you have any regrets about anything you've posted on Twitter?
Yeah, I have a lot of regrets. I'm not the smartest person on Twitter; I'm definitely not the dumbest either. I'm in the public eye so much that there's so much that I have to take back off Twitter. I mean I delete stuff all the time. It's Twitter, I don't think people should take it so serious.
Have any of your coaches ever approached you about controversial things you post?
Yeah, the front office has came to me about that stuff, my coaches never came to me though. Once instance was a couple years ago when we were playing the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. I was talking about Kobe [Bryant] on there and they just came to me like, "Knock it off." Stuff like that. This past year of course there was...
The Tahiry backshot. Yeah, that was...
Speaking of ladies on Twitter, what's the craziest DM a groupie has ever sent you?
The craziest DM a groupie has ever sent me, um, these females say some pretty amazing things. Seriously. I don't know if I can say...but yeah, they send some pretty amazing things. [Laughs.]
Who are your celebrity crushes?
Chanel Iman. [Laughs.] Um, see it gets fuzzy after that. You gotta pick 'em right 'cause you don't want to say you have a crush on a female who's been with 15 or 20 dudes, that's not a good crush. I still have a crush on J.Lo. Jessica White is bad, too. Chanel is my number one though.
You tend to get coverage on gossip sites when you're spotted out with celebs like Rihanna or any other attractive girls. What are your thoughts on those sites and the romance rumors they put out there?
They're pretty accurate [with my dating rumors].
It’s funny because it’s like, you honestly never know unless you know somebody who was there. They could say, "We saw such and such together," and that could be a bold-faced lie. The other person could be way across the country. Other times it could be like, “That's his girl.” [Laughs.] It’s wild the way they portray things. You could be in the club next somebody, and they could be like “Oh such and such is here, and such and such is here—boom, let’s send it out!” Then it’s everywhere and everybody knows. It’s crazy, it’s just beyond me how it works like that.
If you had to give a percentage on how accurate they are when it comes to rumors about yourself, what would it be?
On mine, they're pretty accurate [with my dating rumors]. [Laughs.] I mean, with other people I know they're not that accurate. However, they're accurate with my shit. [Laughs.]