Burlington, NC- JR Smith I couldn’t help feeling uneasy.
Indeed, he has played for the NBA for 16 years, earned millions and won two world championships in a packed arena at the highest level of sports in the world. But he was never in a situation like Monday. A 36-year-old freshman lined up tee shots as he played North Carolina A & T’s first college golf tournament at Elon’s Phoenix Invitational.
“I was nervous. Smith said,” I wasn’t sure what to expect, “said Smith, who overshot a par 83 12 overs in Round 1 and 78 overs 7 in Round 2.
It’s easy to understand, given how big a change it represents for Smith. To this day, just a year ago, he was shirtless at a court celebration with LeBron James. Los Angeles Lakers We’ve just finished the NBA title that ran in the Florida pandemic bubble.
Since then, Smith has been drawn to a school in Greensboro because he was interested in attending a historically black college. This follows the NBA and its players’ push to support the HBCU tradition and culture in this year’s Atlanta All-Star game.
On Monday, Smith’s Pride came from representing HBCU for the first time as an Aggie’s golfer at a two-day event at the Allamance Country Club.
“We are only a small part of the country, not to mention the budget system,” Smith said with a laugh. “Because I see everyone else have a van and everything else. But that’s great. It’s great to represent them. It’s great that the school is recognized because they deserve it. Great, and my fellow classmates.
“That’s what I’m most excited about. We want to be able to go back to campus and keep our teammates high with a win from the tournament.”
For Smith, who originally planned to play basketball, it was a college experience that was almost 20 years behind. North Carolina It was the first round pick in 2004, before jumping from preparation to the NBA.
“I was pretty happy with him,” said Aggie’s coach Richard Watkins. “He made some mistakes and did some things you would do if you weren’t used to the competition. Going out and playing recreational golf with your peers is quite different from competition. increase.
“The first 18 was just to get my feet wet. Then he sat down and was really happy that he did the second 18 because education doesn’t get cheaper. And he has some lessons out there today. I think I learned. “
The presence of Smith in a blue A & T hoodie and white trousers drew a mini-gallery of a range of 15-30 curious spectators following him around the course. Eli Ehrbar couldn’t miss the chance to be part of it.
21 years old from Cleveland, Smith helped James lead Cavaliers For the 2016 World Championship. Elon’s senior said it felt a bit fortunate for Smith to qualify very close to his first college tournament.
“When I saw him qualified, I was like’I have to come’,” said Ehrbar, wearing a Burgundy Cavaliers hoodie. “I think it was a kind of feeling between me and a few friends. We were like this was a world class athlete and a world champion NBA player, especially since we’re from Cleveland, so it’s a little different. Gives an impression. “”
Smith seemed relaxed enough through the many holes. When the tee shot hit the tree and landed on the fairway, Smith immediately said he called it a bank shot. A playful “beep” was heard as the cart, driven by temple golfer Joey Morganty, passed through the spectators of the cart pass.
And in one of Smith’s shots, when the excited two-year-old yellow Labrador retriever “Lucky” began to bark from the front yard of a nearby house, Smith stopped and shouted from across the green.
Smith said he wanted to be just a rival in the tournament, although he understood the special precautions associated with his debut.
“Above all, it just got out there and could compete as one of the guys under just another name, mine [butt] “I kicked,” Smith said. “I was really very humble. Again, I’m ready to go that far to tackle it. It was fun, but I don’t like losing. “
– NBA Sports
Former NBA guard JR Smith makes his golf debut at North Carolina A & T
https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/32383411/ex-nba-guard-jr-smith-makes-golf-debut-north-carolina-at Former NBA guard JR Smith makes his golf debut at North Carolina A & T