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The Best Thing in Sports Right Now Is Following J.R. Smith’s College Journey: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. J.R. Smith provided us with a wide array of memories—good, bad and ugly—during his 16-year NBA career.

He won two NBA titles. 

He became part of one of the most iconic images in NBA history. 

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He once asked a Twitter follower if they “wanted the pipe.” 

And that’s just scratching the surface.

But what Smith is doing now should get as much attention, if not more, than anything he’s previously done in his career. He’s currently attending classes at North Carolina A&T, where he will also play golf.

A quick search shows that the former NBA swingman is worth $35 million. He certainly doesn’t need to get a degree in order to make a living. Smith is doing this because he wants to.

The 35-year-old is also taking us along on his journey. Smith is sharing his experience as a college student on Twitter and it’s been a wonderful mix of inspiring, brutal honesty and hilarity.

He’s expressed his frustration with his school work and found humor in his struggles.

He’s given us a taste of what it’s like to be a former NBA player attending classes.

He’s shown authentic excitement for the experience.

He’s revealed that he wants to better himself in different ways.

He’s been downright inspirational.

He’s been honest and raw.

Sports fans often can’t relate to pro athletes because they don’t live normal lives. So when we can relate to someone we’ve watched on television for many years, it’s always special. This case is extra special because anyone who attended college can relate to what Smith is going through now.

And he’s sharing it all with us in a totally charming manner.

How can you not love this story? How can you not be rooting for J.R. Smith?

2. There are many great things about ESPN's College GameDay. Near the top of the list is the genuine affection that Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis and Desmond Howard have for Lee Corso. 

Last season, Corso wasn't on set for GameDay because of the pandemic. The crew was back together on Saturday for their first show of the season, and it was great to see them all together and heartwarming to see Herbstreit's bond with Corso.

3. I can't even fully explain this story about a high school team duping ESPN into airing its game over the weekend, so just read Awful Announcing's detailed recap.

4. I was expecting so much more from the New York Post back page today after Mets infielder Javy Baez revealed that the team's players are now giving their fans a thumbs down gesture whenever they get a hit, but this is a C- back page.

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The New York Daily News cover is a B+ thanks to the aggressiveness.

5. Nobody has ever wanted a high five more than Cam Newton did yesterday.

6. The latest episode of the SI Media Podcast features two interviews.

First up is Nate Burleson, who has left the NFL Network's Good Morning Football to cohost CBS This Morning. Burleson discusses what went into his decision to make the career change, why the move wasn't an automatic "yes" and why the job at CBS News appealed to him. The former NFL wide receiver also talks about the reaction to the NFL playoff game he called on Nickelodeon last year, his favorite Good Morning Football memory, the hardest job he's ever and gives us a great Jay-Z impersonation.

Following Burleson, writer, author and reporter James Andrew Miller joins the podcast. Miller shares his insights into ESPN's alternate Monday Night Football telecast with Peyton and Eli Manning, Stephen A. Smith reportedly getting Max Kellerman removed from First Take, the Sopranos prequel movie, the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and much more.

The podcast wraps up with the weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment. This week, Jimmy and Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY discuss whether you can do a sports debate show with someone you don't like, Hard Knocks, SummerSlam, CM Punk's return to wrestling and more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: NBC's Al Roker was on the ground covering Hurricane Ida over the weekend despite the potential dangers of the storm. He also had a lot to say about people criticizing his decision to do so.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.