Josh Smith Q + A
SLAMonline catches up with the Hawks’ Renaissance forward.
by Tracy Weissenberg
After Bulls/Hawks Game 4, I was wondering how many players in this league are capable of putting up Josh Smith’s stat line of 23 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks. I figured that the pool would be slim and running the numbers confirmed exactly that.
Over the past 20 postseasons, a 23-16-8-2 game happened nine times. Smith’s company is Shaquille O’Neal (three times), Hakeem Olajuwon (twice), Brad Daugherty (twice) and Pau Gasol (once). In the last five seasons, that stat line has been accomplished just three times in the regular season (twice by LeBron James, once by Vince Carter) and twice in the Playoffs (Smith and Gasol).
After the near triple-double in Game 4, Smith took the podium and was asked some questions about the previous game. “If you all want to blame it all on me for losing Game 3, it’s cool. I’ll take it, I’m a man,” he said, “You know we got a quote in there in the locker room that says, ‘Tough times never last, but tough people do’ and I consider myself a tough person.”
I found Smith’s quote about Game 3 troubling since I was at Philips Arena and thought he had a significant impact on both ends of the floor. His stat line of 17 points (7-14 FG), 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks reveals only the tip of his impact. Although Atlanta lost the game, Smith’s activity around the rim, run-outs in transition and aggressive shot blocking were several aspects that added up to an overall great effort.
Those who focus on a few missed jump shots are letting that overshadow Smith’s electric style and willingness to sacrifice size and stats in order to give the team the best chance to win.
Here’s what he had to say after shootaround before Game 6.
SLAM: I thought you had a great showing in Game 3, but then I heard your words in the post-game press conference after Game 4. How did you feel you played?
Josh Smith: I think I played pretty good too but you know it’s just, people can try to just blame things on you and just try to make you out to be a villain, something that you’re really not. But that’s what some media people do though and you have to take the good with the bad.
SLAM: Were you seeing a lot of reports that blamed the loss on you?
JS: I just go off of what [reporters] ask me. I didn’t know that they was blaming the whole thing on me until after Game 4. It is what it is. I just try not to read into the negative publicity or try to read anything up on myself because it could be magnified as something that’s not true.
SLAM: In the last 20 postseasons, a 23-16-8-2 game has only happened nine times. You, Hakeem Olajuwon (2), Shaquille O’Neal (3), Pau Gasol and Brad Daugherty (2)were the players to accomplish it. What is it like to be able to have a game of that caliber?
JS: Just to be mentioned with the names that you just named are unbelievable. Those are Hall of Fame players and players that been effective in this league for a long time. I just have to keep pushing and keep being positive and just keep doing whatever I can in order to help this ball club win.
SLAM: Do you think people watching really understand what you’re bringing to the game, who you’re guarding on the floor–I saw you on Noah and Deng–and the mistakes that you clean up around the basket through defense?
JS: No, they don’t. But people that know basketball know it. But the people that just watch the game and don’t know what’s going on and don’t know the different coverages and things that we have to do, they’ll never understand it. So it’s kind of like a win/lose. You win because with the people that know basketball, they understand and see what you’re doing. The people that just watch the game just to watch it is just something you can’t fight.