The NBA season doesn’t start for another nine days, but J.R. Smith and Marcus Smart are already back on their bullshit. In the first quarter(!) of last night’s Cavs-Celtics preseason game, Aron Baynes and J.R. Smith got into a scuffle when Baynes appeared to try and pull a Kelly Olynyk on Smith’s shoulder. After Smith shoved the much-larger New Zealander about five feet, Marcus Smart stepped in to defend his teammate.
Before Smart could get any real blows onto Smith, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier came swooping in to tackle their own teammate to the ground to prevent any further damage. Smith, like a man who is truly about that action, smiled throughout the whole incident. He even waved goodbye to Smart after he was ejected.
The refs gave double technicals to Smart and Smith, Smith and Baynes received double personal fouls, and Smart was ejected, likely for his initial shove to the back of Smith’s head.
The reignited rivalry continued off the court. Smart told Smith if he really wanted to settle this, he could meet him out back. He also told reporters, “All that on the court, we can handle that off the court. I ain’t with that. That’s on my mama. May she rest in peace. Ain’t no punk right here.”
Smith went ahead and responded on Twitter. First, with a subtweet.
Then with a more direct response.
This is one of the rare cases where both parties would likely throw down on sight given their respective on-court demeanor and history. Smith has been involved in plenty of fights throughout his NBA career and Smart has been about that life since college. A 2013 profile on the latter guard during his time at Oklahoma State even starts with, “Six years before Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart became one of the nation’s most respected college basketball players, he threw rocks at people’s heads.” It also helps that these two have gotten into it before.
With LeBron James out of town, it looked like Cavs-Celtics matchups would lose their appeal going into this upcoming season. But if this beef keeps up, there might be a reason to tune in after all.