Former Knicks forward Kurt Thomas said New York needed a veteran to stop the J.R. Smith-shoelace-saga from ever happening, according to an interview the 41-year-old gave to Anthony Donahue's Knicks blog radio show.
The statement, whether a jab at the more seasoned players on the Knicks or a flat-out statement that there were none, comes after Smith untied the shoelaces of opposing players during a game on multiple occasions. The first time it went unaddressed by the league. The second time he received a warning. The third time, Smith was fined $50,000 by the league.
Thomas said if he and other veterans on the team were there last season, the antic would've stopped after the first incident:
"I don’t think so, I don’t think that’s something that would happen. Especially if you have a veteran guy to pull him to the side, to get in his ear, to let him know the importance of him staying focused on the task at hand and that’s his job to go out there and to perform on the highest level.”
Thomas had two stints with the Knicks -- the first from 1998-2005, a span that included the Knicks losing to the Spurs in the '99 NBA Finals, and again in the 2012-13 season. That final year with the Knicks, it should be noted, Thomas had fellow veterans Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace. The Knicks won 54 games during the regular season and finished second in the Eastern Conference that year, notching their first playoff victory in 13 years.
Most relevant to his comment this week, though, is that Thomas was on the team in 2013 when Smith received the Sixth Man of the Year award after a season in which he played arguably the best basketball of his career.
[h/t Ian Begley of ESPN.com for the transcription]
- Marc Weinreich