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Josh Smith’s return to Detroit

Woj had a piece on Smith’s return to Detroit tonight, with the following among one of several thought provoking nuggets:

People came for Smith in ways that confounded him, the ferocity and vitriol for so-called crimes on basketball that felt like the force of something else, something worse. “You know, I’m not a guy walking around with DUIs on my record, or bar fights,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “I think they expect that out of me. I mean, I understand criticism comes with this, but … I feel sometimes like I did something harmful to somebody’s kid.

That statement struck me because, even though I personally have been very vocal in my support of Smith and the acquisition, even I forgot, given the stigma he’s earned, that this actually isn’t a bad person.  Further, where was the label cancer derived?  Smith makes boneheaded decisions on the court, sure, but if he was a ‘cancer’, I’m not sure those Hawks teams would have been as successful as they had with him as no worse than their second best player, for half a decade.  And even more, why does Smith get the blame for a stupid decision by Detroit to play him alongside Monroe and Drummond?  Everyone knew at the time that it wouldn’t work.  So why is Smith then getting maligned for signing the check that was placed before him?

Since coming to Houston, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocked shots in 24.1 minutes per contest.  That’s about what you’d expect.  The team dropped some games, probably because of him, right at the start, but he shouldn’t have been in the starting lineup to begin with.  Since then, the team has won two games against major Western Conference rivals directly due to Smith.  (Against the Thunder and Mavericks).  That kind of edge is why the decision to pick him up off the trash heap was a complete no-brainer.  Few, if any, teams can match up off the bench with an athletic big like Smith, and now, Terrence Jones.  If Dwight Howard is healthy, that will give Houston a major edge come playoff time.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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