With the Denver Nuggets heading into Game 2 this evening in OKC – and looking to exact revenge from the Thunder’s 107-103 game one victory – they’re going to need positive minutes from the bench to be successful. Which is why the play of guard J.R. Smith is even that much more needed. In Game 1, Smith logged a modest 17 minutes of action – down from his 25-a-game regular season average – scoring nine points in that time.
You never really know what you’re going to get from J.R. on a nightly basis. It’s why his minutes are as streaky as some of his three-point heaves. But when he’s feeling it, he can collect buckets as fast as anyone in the League. And he can do a defense dirty from above the rim to far beyond the arc. The offensive side of the ball is where Smith is most comfortable, and off the court, that comfort circle extends to something else he’s known for: the tattoo chair.
Since the age of 15, if something has piqued his interest – ranging from Lil Wayne to Michael Phelps – it’s been safe to assume that J.R. Smith has, and will, ink it on his body. In a league where tattoos have become far more than commonplace, the Denver Nuggets have been exceeding the industry standards in the department for years. And for their seventh-year shooting guard, getting his life’s trials and triumphs forever marked onto his body has become as second nature as shooting the rock.
“People always say tattoos tell a story,” says Smith. “So, I mean, I think I got a hell of a story going on.”
Ten years after getting his first tattoo, the now 25-year-old Smith has covered more of his body in ink than there is real estate still available to be used; many of which being spur of the moment decisions. Just last August, the same day that Chris “Birdman” Andersen showed up at the Nuggets’ facility with his now infamous “Free Bird” neck tat, Smith went down to the same Denver ink shop (Tribe Tattoo) to get his own colorful “Swish” neck work done.
“My tattoos are really pretty much off the fly,” says Smith. “I mean, whenever I want to get something, I never really know what I’m gonna get until I get to the tattoo shop. So, when I get there, I just start picking stuff and then just get it.”
J.R.’s tattoo game has definitely been on full blast lately, with more to come on his lower torso and legs next, he says. But for Smith, the NBA’s runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year in 2009, it’s just another day in the life.
The mother piece was the most important, because I’m definitely a mama’s boy and I’m not afraid to let everybody know that. The Jesus one was because without him I wouldn’t be here, and God is just a very significant part of my life – and I think it should be in everybody’s. ‘My Time To Shine’ is just expressing myself because I feel as though I’ve waited long enough to express the way I feel on the basketball court. So I just felt as though it’s my time.