BURLINGTON, N.C. — There was plenty of buzz when J.R. Smith was a first-round draft choice of the New Orleans Hornets in the 2004 NBA draft. On Tuesday, the hornets struck back.
But not by the basketball team, which is now located in Charlotte. Smith, 36, a two-time NBA champion making his college golf debut, was stung after stepping on a family of hornets during a round at the Elon Phoenix Invitational in North Carolina, CBS Sports reported.
“To get stung on the basketball court or in an arena, never happens,” Smith, a freshman walk-on at North Carolina A&T, told The Associated Press. “That’s one of the very few things you don’t have to worry about (in basketball) -- other animals. When I got stung, I was like, ‘No way.’”
What all the media outlets agreed upon, however, was that Smith had been stung and required some help from the tournament’s medical staff.
After spending the first two years of his NBA career with the Hornets after being drafted out of high school, Smith spent five seasons with the Denver Nuggets, nearly four seasons with the New York Knicks and nearly five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He ended his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019-2020. He won NBA titles playing for the Cavaliers in 2015-2016 and with the Lakers in his final season.
Smith was stung while playing his third hole of Tuesday’s round, which was at No. 12 since he began on the back nine, The Athletic reported. He finished his round, shooting an 8-over-par 79 at Alamance Country Club in Burlington, the website reported.
Smith, who was the No. 5 player for North Carolina A&T, placed 81st out of 84 golfers after finishing at 29-over 240, according to the AP.
“He found out today that collegiate golf is not easy,” N.C. A&T coach Richard Watkins said on the school’s website after Monday’s rounds. “I thought he did well. We are pleased, but we are not pleased to the point of satisfaction. But I thought he had a good showing today.”
“Golf is one of those games that can have you feeling really high or it can bring you down to your knees,” Smith, who is pursuing a degree in liberal studies at the historically Black university, told WFMY in August. “Knowing all of the game is on my hands and I don’t have to worry about teammates to pass the ball to, I can just play my game and have fun.”
Despite the score, Smith said he was encouraged and eager to improve. He said he spoke with Phoenix guard Chris Paul after Monday’s two rounds and heard from ex-NBA teammates as part of a group text, according to the AP.
“I got a lot of great feedback,” Smith told the news organization. “Chris Paul was telling me guys were talking about it in the locker room. Guys are really looking for my scores, so I got to take care of business so when I see them it ain’t going to be too much backlash.”
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