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What J.R. Smith admitted "scared" him about #Knicks free agency. And it has nothing to do with his role. More:
J.R. Smith came to the Knicks to play with Carmelo Anthony, but this summer he was afraid of losing his favorite teammate to free agency.
“We were so nervous and scared that we weren’t going to be on the same team anymore," Smith said of Steve Novak.
Yes, Steve Novak.
"People asked me who I texted the most this summer," Novak told me recently. "When I tell them J.R., they're like, 'Yeah, right.' But it's true. We talked all the time. He's a great guy."
This is some Felix and Oscar stuff, which is why I've gotten to call them The Odd Couple on MSG Network.
And the two have a genuine appreciation of each other, and their games.
"We got so close in that little time that I got here at the end of the season last year, we had a little joke going," Smith told MSG's Tina Cervasio.
"Whenever he’s open, I’m on the bench or wherever I’m at yelling ‘Find him! Find him! Find him!’ Before you know it, they’re finding him and he’s hitting six or seven threes a game. I think it helped his confidence."
Novak marveled at Smith's unselfishness, especially considering the reputation that preceded him.
"He draws defenses so a lot of attention so when teams do decide to go double, or he makes someone help, he passes the ball so well to me," Novak told Cervasio. "I think the fact that we’re both perimeter threats makes us hard to guard on the floor at the same time . . . I think we definitely compliment each other well.”
They couldn't be more opposite off the court; modest family man from Wisconsin meets fun-loving tattooed baller from New Jersey. It's easily a better sitcom format than Two Broke Girls.
But despite the amusing diametrics, they formed a bond that went beyond stereotypes.
"I don’t think he understood that I was like that before I got there," Smith said. "I didn’t think people knew how close we were going to get. But just the relationship we had, Steve is so . . . he likes to talk, I like to talk, I mean, it makes it great for us. Especially as shooters. We do shooting drills every day after practice. It helps us on the team aspect, too.”
It creates a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch of the bench, as well. Smith may not be completely satisfied with being a reserve, but he is happy to be reunited with his favorite wingman.