J.R. Smith’s daughter was motivation behind playing defense

By Vincent Frank
Courtesy of Tim Fuller, USA Today Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers wing J.R. Smith is primarily known for his willingness to shoot the ball, and shoot it a lot.

This has made Smith a somewhat one-dimensional player since he entered the NBA from high school back in 2005.

With a renewed focus on the defensive end of the court in his 12th season, Smith has played a valuable role for the Eastern Conference champs.

He’s attributing this newfound success to his daughter, who unwittingly made him think about sacrifice for the greater good.

It’s a cute story.

Per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:

“Before last season, Smith was rounding up some of his daughter’s toys despite her objections. Smith wanted to donate the toys she no longer played with to charity.¬†“She said, ‘I don’t want to give away these toys.’ I said, ‘Baby, that’s a sacrifice you’re going to have to make. If you want some new toys, you have give some,'” Smith said. “She looked at me and said, ‘Daddy what are you going to sacrifice?’ I was like, wow. I had to think about it. What was I sacrificing?”

Smith contemplated this comment for a while, wondering exactly what he was giving up in life. After a while, he concluded that his daughter’s comments were¬†some sort of calling for him focus more on defense.

“She didn’t even know what she did,” Smith said. “I always talked about playing good defense but I never did it,” Smith said. “It always turned into if I played well on offense, I felt I did a good job. This year I decided I was going to let how I played defense dictate how I played.”

Smith hasn’t necessarily been great on defense. Instead, it’s all about him not being a liability on that end of the court.

This has helped the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. It could also play a major role in Smith’s value once free agency starts this summer.