Wednesday, June 22, 2016

168. J.R. Smith, Joe Soucheray, and Shirts

If there is one thing I hate, it’s contrarian for contrarian’s sake sports takes. You have a right to an opinion, but when you purposely fish out a contrarian take in the face of an overall positive story, I begin to wonder if the writer actually hates life.

That happened with Pioneer Press columnist Joe Soucheray. I’ll say this straight out, I disagree with basically everything he’s ever written. He’s the crusty, old, white-guy columnist that wonders why kids don’t read newspapers anymore. He’s got a cushy job (as cushy as a paper job can be) and he proclaims his opinions on high. Most of them time I laugh them off and wonder what reality he’s experiencing. But today’s column really made me angry.

His column was titled, “Even for an NBA champion, is a shirt too much to ask?” He went on to write a full column on why he was incredulous that J.R. Smith didn’t wear a shirt when he got off the plane in Cleveland. First off, who cares?

Second, he thought that clothing might inspire some kid: “I wonder what impact it might have had on kids all across the country to see the Cavs get off their airplane dressed to the nines. I would think it might give a kid pause. Wow, look at those guys. I have to get a tie like that.”

No kid has ever said, “I have to get a tie like that.” Just not the case.

Third, he didn’t even acknowledge what J.R. Smith said the previous day after the Cavs had won. Smith basically had the most real and honest answer to a press conference question I had ever seen. The video is worth it.

This is just part of what he said, “If it wasn’t for the structure and the backbone that I have, I wouldn’t be able to mess up and keep coming back and being able to sit in front of you as the world champion.” Wow.

He cried while thanking his parents. He also thanked them for the structure they provided! I have never heard an athlete thank their parent for providing them structure.

I don’t know much about J.R. Smith other than that he’s a bit of a wild dude (or at least that’s what the media has labeled him as.) I gained a newfound respect for him. There are plenty of athletes who thank their parents, but it usually feels like lip service. Smith’s answer was heartfelt and refreshing.

I was so upset that I emailed Souchery. I said his column was lazy and out of touch. I hate an obviously bad take that’s rooted in curmudgeonlyness. It’s even more infuriating because Smith basically shattered the stereotype of the athlete-speak. He provided a heartfelt quote in a press conference that usually has bland, rehearsed answers.

So, screw you Joe Soucheray. You don’t know everything from your high perch where you can see and judge everyone’s fashion sense. You go, J.R. Smith.

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