So it turns out that J.R. Smith isn't the only basketball player to have untied an opponent's shoes during free throws. A couple decades ago, another trash-talking, non-urban volume shooter pulled the same stunt, and somehow managed not to get written up by a professional sportswriter as a cross between Curly Neal and the lamb-horned beast from the earth. Shame on you, Larry Bird.
Bird and Person continued their personal battle. At one point when Bird was out of the game and lying on his towel in front of the bench, he reached over and untied Person's shoelaces as the Pacer waited for a free throw at the other end.
That's from Jack McCallum's Unfinished Business, excerpted earlier today on The Stacks. McCallum is writing about Bird's jousting with Indiana's Chuck Person during the first round of the playoffs in 1991. Bird got off without a fine, so far as we can tell. Once upon a time, the NBA wasn't so afraid of itself.