First and foremost, I hope that everyone reading this is safe and healthy. While we miss live sports, it is a great time to reflect on what makes these games so special. As we navigate through these strange times, let’s take a look back at the NBA’s strangest stories like the time…
JR Smith threw soup at a coach
JR Smith is no stranger to outlandish behavior. Untying opponents’ shoes, ecstatic celebrations, enjoying marijuana and having an interesting social media presence are among Smith’s greatest hits. Also, there was the time he forgot where he was during Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. Clearly, Smith has a reputation as a proverbial “class clown” in the NBA. However, Smith is a talented scorer, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2013 with the Knicks. In 2018, Smith was on the Cavaliers alongside LeBron James, coming off their third consecutive Finals appearance.
On the other side of this story is Cleveland assistant coach and former NBA journeyman Damon Jones. Jones had spent his 11-year NBA career with ten different teams, best known for proclaiming himself “the best shooter in the world.” In 2014, Jones joined the coaching staff of the Cavaliers and became full-time in 2016.
On March 1st 2018, the Cleveland Cavaliers announced that JR Smith was suspended for their game against the Philadelphia 76ers. At first, the team gave a vague reason, “actions detrimental to the team.” As many in the sports world know, this could mean just about anything. Incredibly, internet sleuths on twitter, slowly pieced together the real story. The following day, ESPN confirmed that the suspension took place because JR Smith threw soup at Damon Jones.
Years later, Jones would reveal that it was piping hot chicken tortilla soup. Smith threw the soup and the bowl, after an argument had reached a boiling point. “It went everywhere… shoulder, arm, everywhere. It hit the wall!” Jones said. Allegedly, the disagreement was caused by Jones making jokes, while Smith was simply not in a joking mood.
After serving a one-game suspension, Smith rejoined the team. Jones, not burned by the hot soup, continued as assistant coach. The Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Warriors in five games. Following the season, LeBron James left the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving a void in Cleveland’s roster.
Subsequently, the Cavaliers parted ways with Jones during the start of the following season. During the 2018-2019 season, Smith would only play in 11 games with Cleveland. He remains a free agent to this day.
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