In the summer of 2013 Josh Smith was a free agent with a pretty nice, if not exceptional, resume. Drafted out of high school, Smith played for his hometown team, the Atlanta Hawks, for a decade. At 6-9 with incredible length and athleticism, Smith could have (and some say should have) dominated the Eastern Conference with inside post up play but Smith preferred the stretch four identity before it became glamorous or popularized.
The problem inherently arose when Josh Smith, lover of clanking up bricks, couldn’t make perimeter shots with any level of accuracy. It always seemed like a waste of enormous talent. Josh Smith could have been Blake Griffin. But he wanted to be Robert Horry. No disrespect to Horry, he was a role player on championship teams and he made big shots when it counted. Horry was a team builder and not a team divider. Horry never was paid max dollars for dropping game winners. Josh Smith has nothing in common with Robert Horry.
The free agency of Josh Smith in 2013 was met with a yawn. Only the Detroit Pistons made a serious offer and at the time most thought his $54 million dollar deal was a ridiculous investment. Smith had never shown any indication that he had the desire or the maturity to be the face of a franchise, a team leader, a player you depend on to carry you on a Tuesday night in January in Minnesota.
The Pistons owned up to their mistake a year later, waiving Smith and eating his salary while continuing to pay Smith $5.4 million a year for the privilege of going away. Smith is now with the Clippers making the minimum salary ($1.5 million) plus what he is stealing from the Pistons. To his credit, since he left the Pistons, Smith has been exemplary. He hasn’t been a starter and hasn’t pouted or bitched about the demotion. He’s done what has been asked of him and he has had his share of quality moments that remind everyone who Josh Smith used to be once upon a time.
And then he said this regarding his $6.9 million dollar salary when he was being introducted to the Los Angeles media.
“At the end of the day I do have a family. So it’s going to be a little harder on me this year. But I’m going to push through it.”
Ah. The family having it tough sob story that absolutely no one can relate to. On the face of it there is no more stupider thing to say. Josh Smith, who is currently making more than 99% of what average Americans will ever see in their lifetime, is defending his salary and at the same time bitching about it, as if he has to supplement his $132,ooo a week paycheck with an EBT card. In Josh Smith’s career he has earned what generations of families have never amassed, not even in their most grandiose dreams.
That push through it comment went over as well as Josh Smith’s bad three point shots early in the shot clock. There is no more insulting or tone-deaf thing a professional athlete can do than talk about how his bloated salary is making his life tougher when he works six months out of the year, three days a week for two hours a day. But Josh Smith has to push through it. He has to push through choices like what should he pay and what must he pay. He has to push through rent this month or cable bill, car note or insurance, medications or gas. Give me a break.
Money is relative. Your circumstance is your reality. If you have third world problems you don’t identify with anyone else. If you have 1% problems you dismiss the rest of us. Just don’t talk about it, don’t tell the world you have to suffer this year on $6.9 million because the truth is in geography. Not far from where your fat check is being direct deposited is someone who is really pushing through it, working two jobs, racing their kids back and forth, helping their eldery parents out and hoping they don’t get sick because the insurance premium was late. They are not Josh Smith.
photo via Wikimedia.org