Tattooing the Larry O'Brien trophy on your arm before the season and then going on to play a key role in winning the NBA title is just about the pinnacle of "I told you so." When the topic of title guarantees come up, Nets guard Jason Terry, who inked himself before the Mavericks' 2011 championship run, is up there with Joe Namath, as his bold artistic commitment to his prediction amounts to an unimpeachable trump card.
So how does Terry, arbiter of such matters, feel about Knicks guard J.R. Smith's recent title guarantee? Well, he's a little dubious, to put it kindly.
In a Dime Magazine interview, Terry mocked Smith's prediction as New York's crosstown war of words continues.
Dime: Speaking of this upcoming season, you recently said that you guys have “the formula” to knock off the 2013 NBA champions, the Miami Heat. But there’s also another team in New York with championship aspirations after J.R. Smith recently guaranteed that the Knicks would be crowned in 2014. Talk about the hype going into this new found rivalry.
JT: They would win what? What did he guarantee? They would win what? I didn’t hear that.
Dime: The championship.
JT: They would win the championship?
Dime: Yeah, he said 100 percent guarantee.
JT: The NBA championship?
JT: Right. Maybe the Rucker Park Championship. I don’t know, not the NBA championship. I don’t see how they could guarantee that, at all. I’m not buying it, so… I mean, it’s a bitter rivalry, you know it’s going to be intense, and however they feel over there in that locker room they are guaranteed and entitled to feel that way but we don’t want to see that happen on our watch.
Smith, who won the Sixth Man Award last season, isn't the only Knicks player spouting championship aspirations. The New York Post reported Tuesday that All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony is also focused on winning the first ring of his career.
“For me now, the only thing I need is a championship,’’ Anthony said. “I think I proved to everybody the type of basketball player I am. Everyone in the world knows I can score the basketball — to separate myself is a championship. I can count on one hand the amount of people that won a national championship in college, a gold medal and an NBA title. If I can do that, that kind of separates me from some others.’’
Meanwhile, Terry isn't the only member of the Nets to rile up the Knicks with some trash talk. Paul Pierce, acquired with Terry and Kevin Garnett from Boston in a summer trade, predicted in August that the new-look Nets would surpass the Knicks in New York.
“I think the hate, it’s grown a little,” Pierce said in a radio interview with 98.7 FM in New York. “Everybody knows how much I dislike the Knicks as a Celtic but it’s grown to a whole nother level. Now, it’s like crosstown, over the bridge, this is the rivalry. This is really the rivalry. … I think it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.”
Smith responded by declaring that Pierce would "pay" for those words. Knicks guard Raymond Felton also proclaimed the Nets will "never take over the city."
Even before this summer's beef-a-thon kicked off, Smith and Terry had a history. During the 2013 playoffs, Smith was ejected and later suspended for hitting Terry with an elbow. Perhaps the playground nature of that foul, and the jawing match that ensued in its aftermath, guided Terry's thinking in hitting the Knicks with the "Rucker Park" one-liner. Perhaps he knew that deriding the Knicks as a less-than-organized bunch would be a good button to push, given that both Anthony and Smith are often criticized for their shot-happy ways.
This particular round of squabbling can really only be resolved one way: It's time for Smith to put the tattoo gun where his mouth is so that we know that it's real. If Smith puts together an ink mural that includes the Larry O'Brien trophy, confetti, champagne bottles and images of Adam Silver and Bill Russell, we'll have no choice but to take him seriously.