Two-time NBA champion J.R. Smith added a dash of spice to the NBA offseason when he appeared on Bryant McFadden and Patrick Peterson’s podcast All Things Covered last week and said that in his 16-year career, he had only ever really disliked one teammate: Sam Dekker, who was on the Cleveland Cavaliers for a few months in 2018.
Smith was a bit vague about why Dekker bothered him so much. “He’s a person who’s just very aware of somebody else’s circumstances and want to keep them there, as opposed to try to help him elevate up,” he said. “And I don’t respect anything about that.” The most specific thing Smith said about Dekker was that “he did some bullshit on the bus one day, talking some Trump shit.”
Dekker has been out of the NBA for two seasons after five unremarkable stints with four teams, and he now plays in Turkey. His time with the Cavs and J.R. Smith lasted just nine games of the 2018-19 season before he was traded to the Washington Wizards, so whatever relationship the two had was a brief one. It is relevant that the summer before Dekker joined the Cavs, he got into an exchange with his former college teammate Bronson Koenig over “white culture.”
“Don’t put it in my face that being a white guy is something I’m supposed to be ashamed of,” Dekker tweeted at the time. “I’m proud of who I am and so should you.” Whoops!
Smith’s comments normally wouldn’t have made waves, since they’re rather vague and few people currently care about Sam Dekker. “Well I am just as confused as y’all,” Dekker even wrote in a now-deleted tweet. “I’ve never been a Trump guy, so this blindsided me.” However, reporter Olivia Harlan Dekker, who is Sam’s wife, replied to NBC Sports writer Dan Feldman this week and dismissed Smith by saying, “Consider the source.” (A person on the same team as Sam Dekker seems like a reasonable source!) Smith then responded:
Smith clarified that he never accused Dekker of using the slur, though he did once again hint at Dekker having a strong opinion on who could use it.
Jeez, that really bounced back in the Dekkers’ faces.