Carmelo Anthony Rushes to J.R. Smith's Defense over Rihanna, Focus

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 10, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks celebrates his game winning three pointer with his teammates Steve Novak #16 of the New York Knicks and J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden on April 8, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Perhaps in an effort to elicit the most hackneyed jokes possible, Carmelo Anthony stunned everyone by offering up an assist to New York Knicks teammate J.R. Smith—who came under fire for clubbing with Rihanna after a Game 2 loss—and defending the reserve gunner's right to party.

See what I did there? Assists and defense from 'Melo? Stunning, huh? I told you the jokes would be hackneyed.

Anyway, according to Knicks beat writer Steve Popper (via sulia.com), Anthony has no reservations about Smith's commitment to the team:

To me, he’s focused now. He’s here with us, when he’s here he’s here. Whatever he’s been doing in his spare time he does in his spare time.

My thing to J.R., I want him to remain positive regardless of what’s going on off the court, what’s being said about him. If you don’t have a positive attitude throughout these situations it’s going to make everything tough.

 

This is a nice show of public leadership by Anthony, and Smith has to be appreciative of the support in light of his recent struggles.

Lately, New York's bench gunner hasn't had many things go his way. Smith's wretched shooting performance (he's just 7-of-30 from the field in two games against the Indiana Pacers) and recent flopping fine have made him an easy target for jokes.

J.R. might not spring for bottle service this weekend... RT @nbaofficail: NYK's J.R. Smith Fined $5,000 For Flop Violation

—Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) May 10, 2013

But if the reigning Sixth Man of the Year can't sort out his jumper, coach Mike Woodson won't be doing any laughing. Instead, he's threatening to do some benching:

Mike Woodson says J.R. Smith could spend time on bench if he stays cold dlvr.it/3LjNHz

—Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) May 9, 2013

Hey, it's easy to see why Smith's distracted, but this kind of stuff doesn't play well during the postseason—especially when Smith, himself, isn't playing well.

Carmelo Anthony Not Worried About J.R.’s Smith’s Relationship With Rihanna ow.ly/kU8lQ

—allhiphopcom (@allhiphopcom) May 10, 2013

It's great of Anthony to step in and back his teammate, but privately, 'Melo has to be concerned about the extracurricular activities of his team's only other real scoring option.

If Woodson could get this kind of unselfishness and commitment to defense from Anthony, New York might be in a more commanding position in their series against the Pacers.