Will J.R. Smith’s Knee Injury Force Other NBA Players To Reconsider Playing Overseas?
There’s a chance that former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith played both his first and last game in China over the weekend. After signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association a couple months ago, Smith made his debut on Sunday. He scored 20 points, but the Golden Bulls lost in a blowout. That’s not the reason he might have played his one and only game with the team, though.
During the fourth quarter of the game, Smith was reportedly cutting through the lane to the basket when he jammed his leg into the ground and sustained a knee injury. He winced in pain as his teammates reportedly carried him off the court and placed him into an ambulance outside of the arena. Smith’s father said that he’s walking around already and is “fine.” But he’s set to have an MRI on the knee soon to try and figure out the extent of the damage.
Up until now, the situation that Smith is in has always been a “What if…?” scenario. As in, what if an NBA player gets severely injured playing basketball overseas? What if he needs to have surgery? And, God forbid, what if he blows out a knee and can never play again? Now, we are seeing exactly what can happen. The Golden Bulls are already trying to distance themselves from Smith’s injury, while Smith is trying to get them to pay for medical services. Meanwhile, players back home in the United States are sitting back and wondering if it’s worth risking their health for a paycheck to play overseas.
Smith’s injury should make other players think twice before they commit to play anywhere overseas. And if they do decide to do it, they need to make sure that whatever team they sign with will cover them in the event of a career-threatening injury. Further, if they are going to play overseas, they’d be smart to sit down and purchase an insurance policy that covers them against injuries that could potentially threaten their futures. Injuries can happen to anyone. So they need to be sure they’re covered in case of an accident.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Smith’s injury will pretty much stop all of the NBA’s stars from going to play overseas. Guys like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were already no-gos from the start. Derrick Rose just said that he’ll stay home and stay in shape and pray that the lockout ends sometime soon. But I’d also guess that there are a bunch of mid-level stars out there who will turn down offers from teams overseas now, too. They’re not making the big bucks like the superstars, so you’d think that they’d want to make a little extra cash during the lockout. However, the truth is that they also can’t afford to go play for a couple million dollars and risk losing their careers to an injury. It’s as simple as that.
Smith’s injury has put some things back into perspective for a lot of players. Saying you’re going to go overseas and play is one thing. It’s a good tactic for trying to force the NBA owners to give into your lockout demands. However, actually doing it is another thing. And I don’t think that a whole lot of guys will want to do it now that they’re seen what might happen if they do. It stinks to be J.R. Smith right now. But, in the grand scheme of these things, he just helped a whole bunch of pro basketball players make the hardest decision of their lives.