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J.R. Smith clashes with Chinese team about knee injury

Nov 21, 2011, 1:09 PM EDT

CBA 11/12 First Round: Guangdong Hongyuan v Zhejiang Chouzhou Getty Images

It took all of one game for J.R. Smith to clash with the management of his new team. Should have seen that one coming.

We still don’t know the severity of a knee injury suffered by Smith in the fourth quarter of his first game in China, but it sure didn’t look good.

The disagreement between Smith and the Zhejiang Golden Bulls comes down to diagnosis and treatment, reports the Wall Street Journal (via Eye on Basketball).

Zhao Bing, the Golden Bulls’ general manager, said the player repeatedly declined medical treatment from the team and arranged his own treatment in Beijing instead. “We warned him that he’s not allowed to go to Beijing without a proper medical check,” Mr. Zhao said, expressing his displeasure at Mr. Smith’s disobedience. “He just wouldn’t listen.”

Mr. Smith is “an experienced basketball player and a big name in NBA,” Mr. Zhao said. But “I think he should have been aware that CBA is not an easy game to play either…”

Mr. Zhao posted a warning to Mr. Smith on Sina Weibo (basically Chinese Twitter) on Monday afternoon, saying the player should return to team as soon as possible “or face the consequences.” Mr. Smith responded in English less than an hour later, “My main goal is to get healthy! If you can’t understand that then maybe you should pick another profession!”

He added that his goal is “not to leave! My goal is to win!”

Smith wanting to trust his own doctors and not the team doctor is a very NBA thing — remember Andrew Bynum did that with the Lakers, and while that was the most high profile situation there have been others. It’s actually just very American to want to seek a second opinion on major medical issues (so long as your insurance lets you).

But China is a different, more rigid and structured culture. Breaking away from the team is frowned upon. Greatly. But this is J.R. Smith, so conformity to your structure is not in the cards. You had to know that was coming.

  1. brooklynbulls - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Wow….suggesting that your boss may need to find a new profession right after your first official day on the job is bold even for him. I can understand wanting your own doctor to evaluate an injury, but there is a proper way to handle yourself. Get your passport ready JR you will be the next player coming back to the states with the words “return to sender” stamped on your a$$.

  2. larrybrown43 - Nov 21, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Another knucklehead that will embarrass our country with the “Me” attitude.

  3. bcjim - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Screw China and the horse they rode in on.

  4. jimbo75025 - Nov 21, 2011 at 4:24 PM


    These guys reject a deal from the NBA then run off to play wherever will have them-now they want to set their own rules. News flash-when you play for a team (or league) you have to adapt to the rules of your employer and those vary greatly. While I would never wish injury on anyone, maybe the players will look at what has happened to Mr Smith and come to their senses.

  5. quizguy66 - Nov 21, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    J.R. Smith set to join China Rockbreaking League. Details at 11….


  6. asublimeday - Nov 22, 2011 at 2:44 AM

    If you’d have told me these college drop-outs (as though they ever attended a class; may as well call them high school grads) wouldn’t do well immersed in a culture based on hard work, discipline, and respect.. I’d definitely have believed that.

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