BURLINGTON, NC – JR Smith He walked into a horn nest in his first college tournament, and it had nothing to do with his high score.
The 36-year-old two-time NBA champion was literally stabbed by horns as he completed his round Tuesday for North Carolina A&T on the second day of Elon’s Phoenix Invitational.
“Being stabbed on the basketball court or in an arena never happens,” said Smith, now a first-year student. ‘This is one of the few things you do not have to worry about [in basketball] – other animals. When I was stabbed, I was like ‘No way’. “
The horns had just added to the sting of Smith’s round of 8-over-par 79 without a birdie in the design of Donald Ross. Combined with his two rounds Monday, he finished at 29 over 240 – in 81st place out of 84 entries.
Smith said he is determined to improve because he knows others are paying attention. He communicated with Sun wait Chris Paul after Monday’s two rounds and heard from former NBA teammates as part of a group text.
“I got a lot of good feedback,” Smith said. “Chris Paul told me guys talk about it in the locker room. Guys are really looking for my scores, so I have to do business, and if I see it, it’s not going to be too much of a setback.”
Yet he made an impact on the occasion. After the round, playmate Mason Whatley of Presbyterian took a photo with Smith.
“He made golf cool for people,” Whatley said.
When the horns attacked, it was not Smith’s highest priority to be an ambassador for the game.
It happened on his third hole of the third round at Alamance Country Club. His tea shot went off the fairway and embedded in pine wood. He found the ball, but his trailer’s wheel rolled over the nest.
Smith wandered away from that area and waved his arms before needing treatment. Smith, along with playmates Florian Blatti of George Washington and Whatley, took a 15-minute break while other groups played through.
“I was trying to turn it into a positive state,” Smith said, referring to a patient while I was sick in the NBA. “It could be your equivalent of a flu game.”
Smith had the sixth best score out of six players in his team. The Aggies finished 11th in the 13-team field, 57 strokes off the pace set by tournament champion Elon.
Smith played in the NBA for 16 years and won championships with Cleveland in 2016 and last year with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Florida pandemic bubble. The Lakers’ title win came exactly a year before his debut as an Aggies golfer.
Smith said he has put together a preliminary round with North Carolina’s recently retired basketball coach Roy Williams. Smith would originally play basketball for Williams’ Tar Heels before jumping straight to the NBA in 2004.