Stealing the words from "The Most Interesting Man in the World," if J.R. Smith was in his own commercial, he might say something like, "I don't always do the right thing, but when I do, the Knicks and New York sports fans are better off."
Could Smith, who's always been a polarizing -- and sometimes perplexing -- player and personality, be the most interesting athlete in New York these days? After years of several run-ins, the Knicks' sixth man is finally expanding his portfolio in more good ways than bad, on and off the court.
Let's take a look at eight unique shades of Smith, first with his game:
1. The baller -- His recent All-Star-like play is already fueling talk of his upcoming contract. Here's the deal: If he declines his $2.9 million player option, the Knicks have his Early Bird Rights and can offer him $5.55 million. While Smith could fetch more, he's deeply connected to New York. Last summer, Smith turned down more money to sign with the Knicks because he loved the team and city, respected Mike Woodson and wanted to play with his longtime buddy, Carmelo Anthony.
2. The candid man -- Transparency defines Smith, and there's no better example of that than when he said, "My goal is to start," before the season. Smith always speaks his mind and he also gives great detail about the game when you ask him about why certain things worked or didn't work. He has one of the most underrated basketball IQs.
3. The celebrity dater -- One word: Rihanna. Reportedly last May, Smith was dating with arguably the world's biggest female music star. They were spotted together at two nightclubs, Veranda and LIV, in New York City and Miami Beach, respectively.
4. The entertaining tweeter – Smith made national headlines last March for getting fined $25,000 after posting a racy photo reported to be of model Tahiry Jose on his Twitter account. While he’s stopped doing that, he hasn’t been shy about communicating with many other models. He even replies to fans in the wee hours of the night with “#VampLife.”
5. The golfer -- Smith started obsessing about golf in 2008, after Moses Malone introduced him to it at Rashard Lewis' charity event in Houston. "After that, I was hooked," he said. Since then, Smith, along with his younger brother, Chris, has played all over New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles, where he likes to reside during the offseason. He's never taken a lesson, and his impressive handicap is about a 10. His golf gear and bag are also super slick and fashionable.
6. The heavily-tattooed dude -- Ever since he got his first ink of himself dunking at 15 years old, he's visited around 1,000 tattoo parlors and has lost count of how many he has. His guess is 70 something, and he's not done yet. "I don't really plan mine," he said. "I just go to the tattoo shop and think of it when I'm there really."
7. The music video star -- In October, Smith debuted as the male lead in the music video, "How Deep Is Your Love," featuring Grammy award-winning reggae artist Sean Paul and popular R&B singer Kelly Rowland. Get this: Smith didn't even have to audition for the role. "From listening to the song, they just said I was the perfect person to play it," he said.
8. The sneakerhead -- Smith has more than 500 pairs of sneakers, many of them Jordan Brand. He even has a friendly competition with his best friend, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, about who can collect the most. So far, that's definitely Smith, as Cruz has about 300 pairs.
Which New York athletes have been interesting to you in the past? Leave us your comments below.
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