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J.R. Smith and Ricky Rubio are as different as two athletically gifted dropouts could be. One is a mercurial soul whose life is measured in Deadspin headlines and the other is black. J.R. Smith’s existence screams “I skipped college and went straight to the pros!” His game screams “fuck you,” and every time he plays I scream “fuck yeah.” I love him unconditionally. I don’t care that white guys who were never good enough to even play the game say that he plays it “the wrong way.” That’s his splendor. I know that during a 3 on 1 fast break there is a greater possibility of Smith pulling up for a silly 3-pointer rather than making the “right” play. Rubio, on the other hand, will never pull up for that 3. He will run the fast break so effortlessly that even Jason Kidd wouldn’t be able to resist looking up from his freshly beaten girlfriend for a second to marvel at young Rubio. Rubio and Smith are the same and different – and this weekend they reminded me how much I love them.
Smith plays like he grew up in a video game; he is a ridiculously gifted player who is completely unaware of the concept of repercussions. He does exactly what I do when I’m playing NBA Live; I play like a dick; I don’t pass, I shoot way too many threes, my defense defines lax, I cherry pick all game and I always attempt dunks that are a touch out of my avatar’s range. Rubio plays like a guy who grew up with 4 older brothers, who were also way too skilled for him to compete. So, he learned to complement those brothers, and, while adjusting his game to accentuate theirs, he developed a refined and desired skill-set. Rubio made himself far too integral to the fabric of a team to remain an afterthought and Smith made himself too integral to the fabric of himself to remain an afterthought. I love Rubio and Smith, and just like with the family members I love, I only realize my love when they die or do something outstanding enough for me to feel comfortable acknowledging that love.
I don’t care about sports enough to care about injuries. I sort of enjoy them. Hell, in NASCAR I even root for them. (Danica shouldn’t be allowed to mouth off and grow physically threatening without fear of retribution from a male driver. So, naturally, I am going to root for her to pull a tendon or run out of gas. Especially, since drivers are not real athletes anyway.)
I used to care when D-Wade got injured, but since moving to Miami (and attending too many Heat games) I have grown tired of weebly-wobbly Wade tipping over with no apparent stimulus.
The last time I truly felt empty on account of a player’s injury was when the Al Qaeda blew up Shaun Livingston’s knee. I remember watching Livingston crumble to the ground. I remember realizing that his attempt to replicate Magic Johnson was over. From that moment on, if he were to ever return, he would be treated as a medical marvel rather than an athletic phenomenon.
That emptiness returned to the deepest part of my soul this past weekend. Kobe (fuckin’ Kobe) ruined my year when he ruined Rubio’s knee.
Beneath the din of Linsanity existed Rubio: consistently making the outrageous seem “rageous.” He was in the Aha Shake Heartbreak epoch of his Leonian existence. Anyone who heard Aha Shake Heartbreak when it was new, had to know he or she was listening to something special, something that had the chance to become universally adored. People who watch Rubio and understand his importance feel the same way. Like early Kings of Leon fans, we have become rabid in our defenses of Rubio and cautious about whom we let into our select club. Hoop purists (and sexually ambiguous guys named Rosicky) hailed Rubio as a genius. He is the foremost cause of Kevin “Color me Badd” Love’s ascent to near-All NBA status. Every Rubio pass into the post led me to empathize with Pau’s futile existence; trapped within the Laker limbo of Kobe’s selfishness and Fisher’s inability to properly feed the best post-player alive. Rubio’s existence made the upcoming Olympics interesting; Spain, with Rubio, was somewhere between threat and rival to the American Olympic crown.
I was sitting on my couch turning an orange into a bong when Rubio went down. Kobe was doing Kobe things when Rubio decided to double him at the left elbow. For a second, I thought Kobe would make the obvious pass that would lead to another pass to a wide-open teammate. But, his selfishness ruined more than the Laker’s offensive flow. He kept the ball and tried to turn the corner on Rubio when Kobe’s “one-step-slow” knee ruined the NBA – at least my NBA. When the Spanish Shaggy (from Scooby-Doo, not Jamaica) didn’t pop right back up, I knew something was seriously wrong. He did not writhe on the ground Ginobli-style. He just sat there. I wanted to grab a cig as bad as Pau surely did – but I just watched my newest NBA crush tell the trainer that he was done – no hope. I turned the game off and smoked my fruity-bowl.
I instantly hated the Rubio-less NBA.
I ignored the Knicks, because everyone seems devoted towards painting ‘Melo as the bad guy. I like The Heat, but living in Miami amongst the least knowledgeable (yet most flamboyant) NBA fans in the world has led me to avoid “The LeBrons” as much as possible. Kobe is an infirmary who is now lashing out at all that is good in the world – beginning with Rubio’s ACL. I missed Rubio immediately; I was stoned off an orange’s worth of weed, and was sick of the rest of the NBA…
Well, I was.
Until J.R. Smith reminded me why I fell in love with him in the first place. He tweeted this gem:
Now, this is one gigantic ass. This ass is attached to a video hoe, Tahiry Jose (go ahead and disable “safe search” before you Google that name). Video game J.R. came out of nowhere to save my Friday night and the NBA. He is completely oblivious to the world, virality, league fines, and proportional butts. He is nothing but id, and I love him for it.
The innocence that Rubio exhibits on the court is the same innocence that J.R. Smith exhibits everywhere. Smith showed the world that his off-court game is just as sloppy and unprotected as his on-court game is. Then, like a gentleman, he chose to spoon with her while watching basketball. But, her fat ass was so thickety-thick that it obscured the screen, and he wanted us to know about it. His girl’s ass was wider than his television! His was not a humble-brag, because there is absolutely no boast in his tweet. It is unaltered, organic, pure innocence. He is not self-aware to the point of revulsion like Dwight Howard or LeBron. He is not charming like D-Wade or Nash. And, he is not psychotically charming like Birdman.
He is real. He saw a huge ass and wanted me to know about it.
J.R. Smith saved the NBA for me. Losing Rubio hurts; his play was my companion during lonely Miami nights. But J.R. showed me that for every perfectly run Rubio play I will have half-a-dozen J.R. exhibitions of retardation to carry me through.
One fat ass saved one torn ACL.
I love this game.
For more from Rosicky…