16 year NBA veteran J.R. Smith has taken his game to the fairway. After retiring from the NBA last season, Smith joined North Carolina A&T’s golf team and will participate in the Phoenix Invitational on October 11.
While he’s is known to have a sense of humor, his participation in the tournament is far from a gimmick. Smith has been a fan of the sport for years, even following the PGA Store through various states in 2014. The two-time NBA champion has practiced his swing for twelve years and is ready to compete. Smith’s participation is on merit, as he qualified for the tournament by a single stroke. While making the tournament is no small feat, Smith has his eyes on bigger fish. The former Sixth Man of the Year is on record stating that he wants to play in the PGA Tour proper one day.
“I was following the Tour at one point starting in May, supporting Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, and Keegan Bradley, all good friends of mine. I went to the Wells Fargo Championship, The Players Championship, the Quicken Loans National, and The Barclays two weeks ago. I would watch from Thursday to Sunday and then play the course on Monday. I would say I’ve probably played 50 courses this summer.” Around six a week.J.R. Smith in 2014
Smith recently enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, pursuing a degree in liberal studies. He was one of the last players to enter the NBA straight from high school before the NBA implemented the one-and-done rule. Smith cited Ray Allen as a source of inspiration for returning to school and finding a new challenge for himself post-NBA life. In terms of North Carolina specifically, Smith has deep ties to the area through his good friend Chris Paul.
“They always told me I can go back whenever when I was coming out of high school, so this is whenever for me.”J.R. Smith
Smith is just one season removed from his role in the Los Angeles Lakers 2020 championship.