This past November, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith was involved in an altercation outside of a pizza shop in New York City. A 19-year-old reportedly claimed Smith attacked him, choked him, and slammed him into a wall in retaliation for a joke about him being traded by the Knicks. Deadspin has acquired video footage that shows what happened that night, which as far as we can tell involves Smith, after being berated for a long time, gently smiting a rude teen.
The clip above was shot outside of Artichoke Pizza on the corner of West 17th and Tenth Avenue in the early morning hours of November 13. It begins with Smith—wearing a black hoodie—being heckled by two bad teens who seem upset that Smith would not take a picture with them. The rowdy teens send some very teenaged taunts in Smith’s direction—“I’m from Two-Nine and Lex!” and “I want you to do something; gonna get 50 grand!” and the like —while one of Smith’s friends—the guy in the red jacket—talks back to the teens before attempting to move to the other side of the street with Smith.
The clip then cuts to surveillance footage from a camera on the same block. You can see Smith—at this point in the middle of the crosswalk—return to the teens and deliver what appears to be a gentle shove (or, at worst, some sort of loose smiting) to one of them before being pulled away by his friend. The shoved or smited teen lurches back from the contact, like Manu Ginobili, and may or may not brush into a wall by the time he’s finished. We don’t know if this video depicts the entirety of Smith’s interaction with the teens, but it seems to support the New York prosecutor’s decision not to press charges. Manhattan DA spokesman Patrick Muncie released a brief statement when the case was dropped:
After a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding this case, we have concluded that the evidence does not support criminal charges against Mr. Smith.
The teen who claims to be on the receiving end of the smiting is still pursuing a civil suit worth $2.5 million. Smith will be playing tonight in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.