Mike Wolf of the Denver Examiner was surprised when he showed up at the local municipal golf course and spied an actual Denver Nugget -- J.R. Smith -- in the parking lot. He was even more surprised when they were both assigned to the same foursome.
But the real shocker was how he ended up getting a bona fide chest bump from Smith. Wolf writes:
The rain inevitably came, sprinkling down on the charming city course -- a place so informal we noticed some neighborhood folks walking their dog through the fairway.
"Is that lady really walking her dog?" wondered Smith aloud.
Then came the long par 3 seventh hole. With a slight breeze in my face, I deliberated over my choice of club. I'm not a big fan of the 190-yard distance, never sure if I should whip a 4 or 5 iron or choke down on the 5 wood. I went with the 5 wood, teed up towards the back of the tee box, choked down diligently and swung nice and easy. The ball launched high in the air and sailed towards the green. The gallery was silent.
The ball plopped down on the green like a tired head on a feather pillow, bounced slightly and rolled right towards the hole. Then it disappeared.
"Did that go in the hole?" asked my buddy Jeff.
"I think so," I whispered, still in shock.
"Yo! Yo!" yelled J.R. running straight at me. He jumped slightly and extended a true NBA-style chest bump. After 16 years of playing golf I had just hit my very first hole in one. And received my first chest bump from an NBA player.
It didn't really matter what happened the rest of the round. "That's the best shot I've ever seen," said Smith, a man I was beginning to realize was very misunderstood. He was a true gentleman. And like coaches such as the Nuggets' Jamahl Mosley have discussed, he seems focused on one thing: getting better. The same was true on the golf course. He is a raw talent with a knack for the long ball.
As we shook hands on the ninth green and realized there was neither time nor daylight for a full 18, I wished him luck for the Nuggets upcoming season. With more question marks than the Riddler's costume, they're going to need it. If that afternoon told me anything it was that Smith is at peace with his new contract, he enjoys Denver and he's not above mingling with the locals for an afternoon at the municipal links.