I Fired Everyone

I kind of feel crappy, the Finals aren't helping, and I don't even know where to begin talking on the draft. So instead, how about some J.R. Smith Media Watch:

The The Rocky Mountain News, delivers a warm "keep your head up" piece. We get reminded how David Wesley's best friend Bobby Phills died when the two were driving Porsches fast. He's planning to call Smith, advise him on dealing with the pain moving forward. Silas chips in to encourage self-respect and honesty. Point: THIS IS A HUMAN TRAGEDY THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ANYONE. Maybe, in private, Wesley or Silas think J.R. is out of control, but that's not the message they want sent through the media. It's not the morale of the story.

Then, over at The Denver Post, columnist Mark Kiszla, gives us the following shimmering harp of pleasant:

What's infuriating is Smith tried so hard to live the lyrics of a rap song that he could now become tragic inspiration for a rhyme about a professional baller who threw it all away.

Born to a good home, raised by two loving parents and made rich as a teenager by the NBA, Smith was so desperate for the street cred glorified by hip-hop culture that he became a poseur, thinking if he wore baggy shorts half off his bum, then maybe Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and teammates who came up from mean streets would accept him.

Smith is a gangsta wannabe who got lost in a dangerous game of make-believe.

How about this one:

On the Nuggets, however, Smith was forever stuck being the li'l bro, trying to dunk louder or act crazier to prove he belonged. It was as if he needed to impress Melo, K-Mart and Allen Iverson, who all grew up earning scars from gritty existences that Smith only knew from watching "The Wire" on HBO.

Although he flashed gang signs after making 3-point shots, Smith never really knew what he was doing. There is a song by 50 Cent in which the rapper warns the life is too dangerous for a wannabe gangsta. Smith was too busy drowning in a culture bigger than himself to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Call me crazy, but how is a traffic accident a symptom of the gangster lifestyle? Plus last I checked, there was nothing "hard" or "real" about being responsible for your friend's death. This is just shitty circumstances, not a lesson for a troubled demographic. At least not beyond WEAR YOUR SEAT-BELTZ.

Since I'm grouchy today, I'll call it: making this into some kind of culture wars, generational divide, us/them conflict is just embarrassing. One kid is dead, another's life is painful and fucked-up. 'Tis not the time to start throwing around truisms about the allure of the street life. Especially not when they're thrown by this guy:

Oh, and I feel some obligation to distance myself from "he could now become tragic inspiration for a rhyme about a professional baller who threw it all away." Whether or not I might one day romanticize a crash-and-burn (no pun intended) J.R. saga, the implication that HIP-HOP DID IT is just fucking insulting. If Smith's career falls apart, like Eddie Griffin's, it's because he is unstable and impetuous beyond all social bounds. This is about an individual's choices and tendencies, not some mindless bouncy tattoo-canvas seduced by hip-hop fatalism. And if there is some psycho-social undercurrent to it all, it goes much further back, and involves a lot more, than four years worth of hanging out in the NBA.

UPDATE: Here's an interview with J.R. about his pre-NBA years, in the Post, no less.

Plus, I don't get why the "little brother" analysis leads to GNGSTR PUGRATORY. Oh wait, because his "bros" Melo and Iverson are "thugs." How silly of me.


At 6/13/2007 10:46 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Actually, Mark Kiszla is being perfectly fair and balanced. The last time there was a drunken frat boy who got in a car wreck and wound up getting someone killed, he wrote: "White people are inconsiderate douchebags."

At 6/13/2007 10:49 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

is that stuff about j.r. smith's background even true? i know he has a dad who had a job or whatever, but as far as i know, j.r. wasn't living in a gated community in the suburbs or anything.

At 6/13/2007 11:04 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

white people are inconsiderate douchebags.

it's not clear to me that j.r. smith's driving was something he got off of a rap record. probably more something along the lines of "young rich people are inconsiderate douchebags."

how does everyone like the blockquotes? lame?

j.r. didn't grow up rich, but it was a stable, middle-class, two-parent family.

At 6/13/2007 11:16 AM, Anonymous Jordan Ginsberg said...

Hey, I don't know about you guys, but I learned everything I ever needed to know about making ill-fated, generally innocuous passes at stop signs from The Wire. And Tupac. And Iverson.

At 6/13/2007 11:31 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

reading that again, it's almost like kizzla had that column all written and was just waiting for smith to fuck up. gangsta wannabe? i mean, that doesn't fit the situation AT ALL.

has anyone ever seen j.r. flashing gang signs? is he talking about the ROC diamond??

At 6/13/2007 11:43 AM, Blogger MC Welk said...

"Smith amassed 27 points against his license from April 22, 2005, to Jan 10, 2006, with eight violations on seven dates. Five of the citations were for speeding."

The only "r" word here is recidivism.

At 6/13/2007 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He holds up three fingers after making a three-pointer -- newsflash to Whitey McGee: NOT A GANG SIGN.. Fucking Kiszla always says stupid racist shit in the Post -- when the AI rumors were starting, he wrote plenty of garbage involving the words "cornrows and tattoos". That guy gets the gasface on all fronts.

At 6/13/2007 12:54 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

Good stuff Shoals. You're clearly right about this, but I worry that you're playing into Kiszla's hands. His whole schtick is basically making outrageous, uninformed statements just to piss a lot of people off and get them talking about his column. He's kind've like a rich man's Brett Edwards.

For instance, he was the genius who said the Nuggs Game 1 win over the Spurs sent the "unmistakable, undeniable" message that the Spurs were done. When asked about this column at the time, the Nuggets beat writer (Marc Spears I think) said something to the effect of, "Well let's just say that there are guys like me who go to practices and follow the league night in and night out, and then there are guys like Kizz."

Point being: the other Post writers don't take him seriously, and you shouldn't either.

At 6/13/2007 1:14 PM, Blogger Zach said...

Mark kiszla is Jason Whitlock's white alias.

At 6/13/2007 1:39 PM, Blogger William said...

Brandon Roy was in a little hot water among blazers fans when he was taped driving around and not wearing a seatbelt for a segment on nbaTV. Last year, Jarrett Jack was involved in an accident WITH A PARKED VEHICLE in which he suffered a concussion bad enough that he had to sit out a game. Not wearing a belt... Neither of those guys are thugs at all.

At 6/13/2007 3:06 PM, Anonymous Sean said...

Does anyone else find it ironic that pundits in the MSM whine about black gangsta culture, but say nothing about white gangsta culture (The Sopranos, The Godfather, The Departed, Goodfellas, etc.)? How is the latter any better than the former?

At 6/13/2007 3:14 PM, Blogger Unsilent Majority said...

"How is the latter any better than the former?"

Lack of Italian American ballers?

At 6/13/2007 3:15 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

I think Chuck D already did a rhyme about said star-crossed baller. Maybe Smith inspired him retroactively.

Whitey McGee has a point about the seductive allure of shitty driving as glorified by modern black music. However--while hip hop may have made me a bad driver, at least I've got D's on that bitch.

At 6/13/2007 3:18 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"through the wire"
"drive slow"

that is some serious driver's ed

At 6/13/2007 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofan: St.Benedict's in Newark is an outpost in a very difficult urban environment. No one attending there (no matter what their relative personal advantage) is insulated from the urban reality that is right outside the school door ( and , to some extent , in the classroom through the presence of some students who are very disadvantaged), and no one attending is caused to a see street criminal life styles in a romanticized way which they would want to emmulate, as the awful column suggests.

In further demonstration of virulent racism, the column then goes on to perversely and contradictorily criticize Smith for not being an authentic urban gangster , like other named players are said to be.

Bring atttention to this kind of media opinion taht exploits the worst in people. Exposure has a cumulative impact. At first it was said nothing would happen to Imus.

At 6/13/2007 4:08 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

btw i kind of fucked up by saying "middle class" earlier, i just meant "not struggling."

here's an interview with smith about his family background. i'll add this in the post, too.

At 6/13/2007 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda seems like this guy was waiting for JR to mess up and then once he did kinda unloaded on him. Don't really think the article is remotely relevant to the driving accident. The thing is all around kind of sad. Most people have that one friend who nobody really knows how they haven't been killed in an accident, and it has nothing to do with musical tastes it has more to do with paying attention to the road.

At 6/13/2007 5:04 PM, Blogger aeneas said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/13/2007 5:07 PM, Anonymous Jake said...

The following letter was sent this afteroon to Mark Kiszla and the editors of the Denver Post:

What right does Mr. Kiszla have to question whether or not J.R. Smith is sorry that Andre Bell, his close friend, died in that car accident? The suggestion that Smith is such a monster that he could not care, and the further stipulation that this is because of rap music, is far beyond offensive.

For a so-called journalist to mock Smith and Bell by suggesting that they would have somehow preferred it if Bell had died "outside a seedy strip club at 3 a.m., the way it would go down in a rap song," is tantamount to slander.

Mr. Kiszla's goes on to focus his ire on the lack of a public apology from J.R. Smith, but it is unclear why he thinks any sports writer needs or deserves a personal statement of regret from the 21-year-old basketball player on the day after this tragedy.

It also unclear is why, to Mr. Kiszla, a car accident is an indication that "Smith is a gangsta wannabe who got lost in a dangerous game of make-believe." (There were approximately 6,420,000 reported car accidents in the United States in 2005.) Why Kr. Kizla thinks that it is acceptable to write this in a major newspaper is a much greater mystery.

Mr. Kiszla does not bother to back up a single one of these provocative statements, or bother to explain what any of them could have to do with Smith's close friend's untimely death: that Smith "tried so hard to live the lyrics of a rap song," that Smith "flashed gang signs after making 3-point shots" (he holds up three fingers), or that "Smith was too busy drowning in a culture bigger than himself to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up."

Worse than just being an unwarranted person attack, Mr. Kiszla's article draws the journalistic integrity of the entire Denver Post into question.

I hope that Mr. Kiszla and the Denver Post will realize the gravity of this situation, and issue an apology to both J.R. Smith and to their readers.

At 6/13/2007 5:09 PM, Blogger aeneas said...

I almost had a car accident last weekend when i slided and turned around a couple of times without bumping anything.. and two years ago i rolled down a small hill with my car overturning it a couple of times after hitting a huge wild pig... i never payed much attention to a deeper reason for that but now i feel bad for listening to rap music although my parents are both alive and have money...

actually my father would probably agree with mark kiszla..

At 6/13/2007 5:30 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

For instance, he was the genius who said the Nuggs Game 1 win over the Spurs sent the "unmistakable, undeniable" message that the Spurs were done.

I wonder if he'd like to have that one back.

At 6/13/2007 7:04 PM, Blogger Notorious D.I.G. said...

Kiszla's a jerkoff, but then so is JR. Considering his driving record, I think the kid needs to be locked up. Check this.. http://2blackballs.blogspot.com/2007/06/jr-smith-menace-to-society.html

At 6/13/2007 7:34 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

""How is the latter any better than the former?"

Lack of Italian American ballers?"

I'm just hanging out to see Bargnani in corn rows.

At 6/13/2007 7:52 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

Ginobili counts as Italian--name ends in "i", plus homes rocks a tracksuit every day. Boom.

Kobe's from Italy too.

At 6/13/2007 9:24 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Notorious D.I.G. said... Kiszla's a jerkoff, but then so is JR. Considering his driving record, I think the kid needs to be locked up.

Man, if all the stuff on that link is true, how is Smith not already locked up? Sounds like a pretty clear-cut case of vehicular manslaughter to me. Whether he's a real or wannabe gangsta has nothing to do with it, the guy sounds like a genuine threat to kill more people if he's behind the wheel of a car. Smith doesn't need to apologize for what he did, he needs to serve time for it.

At 6/13/2007 10:57 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

Didn't have anything to say on this post until I saw the interview about JR's childhood in Lakewood, NJ.

Lakewood, for those who don't know, is like Crown Heights Jr. It's the home of the Yeshiva Beit Medrash Govoha, one of the largest and most powerful ultra-Orthodox schools in the country. It's a town whose ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods butt up against very poor, very black neighborhoods.

If I'd realized Smith was from Lakewood before, I'd have had a lot to say about it. Now... it just feels irrelevant.

At 6/13/2007 11:10 PM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

My theory is that he is a diehard underground rap head (in addition to being a racist) and has been listening to recent songs like El-P's "Drive" and Dilla's "Reckless Driving" and older joints like Nas' "Drunk By Myself."

At 6/14/2007 10:18 AM, Blogger emynd said...


This dudes article is so infuriating I am embarassed to be infuriated by it.

I hate white people.

Also, somebody get this guy a permanent chauffeur.


At 6/18/2007 12:28 PM, Blogger The Cruise said...

Dany Heatley also typifies the wannabe gangsta lifestyle. It's nothin' but thug ballas in the NHL anymore.


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