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Kenny Smith: before and after winning NBA championships

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Lemonte, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. Lemonte

    Lemonte Member

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    I got to see with my own eyes how the Rockets' back to back championships can change a players career and legacy. The player I am talking about is Kenny Smith. It happened like this:

    I started a job in 1990 working for a state agency processing mail and so forth. My work day started at 4:00am in the morning and ended at 12:00 noon. After work, in the middle of the day, I would sometimes go over to Fonde Rec center and watch the guys play ball. I saw a lot of good pick up basketball. Hakeem, Moses Malone, Robert Reid and a lot of other good players used to play there.

    One year, I'm guessing it was the spring/summer '92, the Rockets had just been bounced out of the playoffs by the Seattle Sonics. As I recall it was a close series, but the rockets couldn't get it done. Many of the Rockets fans here in Houston were bummed out about the loss and about the Rockets in general.

    Anyway, I went over to the Fonde gym one one day at noon or so to see what was going on. The place was almost empty. Two regular street guys were playing one on one basketball, or maybe 21. I was sitting in the stands watching, getting ready to leave. In walks Kenny Smith. His being there was no biggie. I remember thinking 'it is just Kenny Smith of the Rockets' ho hum. The guys playing one on one felt the same way, as did most of the fans in Houston.

    Kenny was carrying a box of new basketball sneakers. You know how pro players has shoe deals, etc. He asked the guys playing if they wanted the sneakers. Both guys dissed Kenny Smith. They told him he was sorry. They mentioned stuff that Kenny did or didn't do in the Seattle playoffs, etc. Kenny Smith took it all in stride and sort of shuffled off to somewhere else. I did too.

    The very next season the Rockets started showing promise. They had a long winning streak that set a record. You could feel the team putting it all together. The two seasons after that the Rockets won back to back championships.

    Those two championships propelled Kenny Smith to his current job with TNT. Now Kenny is one of the top spokes persons for the game of basketball both in the NBA or the NCAA. He is like basketball royalty, in a sense. Still, I keep thinking about that spring in '92, when those two guys dissed him. What a difference those two championships made in his career.
     
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  2. DaDakota

    DaDakota Contributing Member
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    Yep playing with Hakeem made a lot of guys careers.

    DD
     
  3. tmac2k8

    tmac2k8 Member

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    Those guys were idiots, I don't care if Adam Morrison walked in and offered me a free pair of new sneakers, I'd take them!
     
  4. PJ86

    PJ86 Member

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    I feel very conflicted about Kenny and here's why: he was good at what he did and while limited, he was key to our success and not just there along for the ride. However, it was not like he was part of a big three or this great hero either. He had some problems with Scott Brooks in 92-93 and Cassell in 93-94 finishing games and taking a lot of minutes. Max also handled the ball a lot in 93-94 so he was not that important. He was a lot better in 94-95, but still key to both rings.

    Unfortunately for him, partly due to injuries, he became almost an after thought in 95-96 when Cassell and sometimes Recasner and Mack took his starting job and plenty of DNPs. He felt disrespected by the fans, organisation and coaches and took shots at all of them and some was very warranted. You provide offense for that very fact, with some guys dissing him already back in 92-93.

    Just to make it clear: Kenny was far from why we lost in 92-93 to Seattle. He was shut down in 94 Finals sure, but was great against Stockton in the WCF and in 94-95 shot lights out for most of the play-offs. The way he left the Rockets was not on the greatest of terms and I think that 95-96 season as well as being underrated during his whole tenure and called out for his 94 Finals appearance as what made him a bit bitter about Houston and the Rockets.

    That he's on TV is not a problem per se, but there are two things that bother me (for which he gets called out for):
    - that he presents himself or is viewed as a representative of the Rockets (at least the championship teams)
    - his smug, mr. know it all personality

    The first one is not necessarily his fault, during discussions and shows he gets asked about a certain thing and he uses his experience with the Rockets as examples. He also speaks of those teams because that's what he knows and obviously loves. Cannot knock him for that. With regards to those teams, it does become annoying when he acts all smug as if he was this great player. Sure, he was good, but you were no Olajuwon or Drexler. Barkley calls him out on this ocassionally.

    With regards to the current team and the organisation, he's usely not that negative, but there always seems to be some kind of hate or unwillingness to give the Rockets credit. Many times when Barkley feels a negative way about us, due to his own history with the Rockets at times, Kenny tends to agree with him. I love how everybody calls him out on his Jet nickname, because this is especially annoying since nobody called him that on the Rockets nor during his playing days. That is part of my 2nd point, his smug personality and how he gives himself this label to make him seem that more important.

    All in all, he was a good player and key component to our 90s success. He ran the pick and roll to death with OT and was one of the main reasons with OT that we stayed alive in 90-91. His 3pt percentage was always around 40 and even assists were pretty high at first. It probably went down with the decrease of minutes with Scott Brooks & Cassell taking plenty of minutes away from him and Maxwell being a good PG himself. He was not the greatest distributor or defender, but good enough to be our 4th / 5th best guy. I still give him credit for that, he just needs to tone it down and stop acting like he's all that, but I guess that's what TV does for you.
     
  5. Jontro

    Jontro Member

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    I think that's just smart self marketing. Many of the younger brehs who grew up with Yao/MerGady don't know that much about Jet, aside from that he was playing alongside Dream and a pretty good 3 pt shooter. But maybe the Harden generation will only know Jet as Jason Terry :p
     
  6. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    And the Rockets have never had a starting point guard with the same tenure as Kenny Smith, also in 1992, Kenny had great stats. whomever dissed him didn't watch the Rockets play much.
     
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    I loved Kenny. I felt bad for him when he was getting limited minutes in 96. I'll never forget that pump fake and shot against the Magic to tie that game up. Just ridiculous. I remember being at a regular season game in 1996 where he came into a game off the bench after it being a big deal that he was reduced to that role...and he had a really nice performance, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. It felt like we were saying goodbye to that era in some way.

    Having said all that...we joked about his bullfighter defense all the time...letting the guy go right by him. He was just awful on that end of the court, and we got torched by really good opposing point guards. He couldn't create a shot for himself. He was a spot up guy. That's ok, but I've read takes from younger Rocket fans that lead me to believe they thought he was a creator...he was not.

    I understand he's a commentator and all that...there's a little part of me that is disappointed that he's not more engaged with the Rockets. I know he doesn't live here, so that's a big part of it. But that team felt like a family, and he was a big part of it.
     
  8. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Contributing Member

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    In my head it's

    Kenny "The Jet" Smith

    And

    The Jet ... Who is Jason Terry

    It's different:p
     
  9. Tenchi

    Tenchi Contributing Member

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    This guy played pretty well when he was paired up with Hakeem and Clyde.

    [​IMG]

    Wonder how his career would have changed if the Rockets got past the Jazz.
     
  10. LabMouse

    LabMouse Member

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    Cassell was the guy who made a big shot one after another. Without Cassell, the result could be quite different for the rockets.
     
  11. Ziggy

    Ziggy 99ers STAND BY
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    The Rockets didn't do him any disservice, he was responsible for his own demise. His shot disappeared completely and Rudy had to look elsewhere, reluctantly.
     
  12. Joshfast

    Joshfast "We're all gonna die" - Billy Sole
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    He got destroyed by bigger point guards in the hand checking era - he'd fit in a lot better in todays NBA. He hit some big shots though, he has two chips and was part of clutchcity so it's all good. :cool:
     
    #12 Joshfast, Jun 3, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  13. LabMouse

    LabMouse Member

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    I recalled that he was shut down by the Knicks guard Harper, then NBA had to change the rule after that. But he can make three.
     
  14. PJ86

    PJ86 Member

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    Debatable, but the point is that Kenny during the 91-95 run was a very good player with some key shots and poise and not just some chump.
     
  15. WinkFan

    WinkFan Contributing Member

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    That picture is proof of how little respect Kenny Smith actually gets. Matt Maloney had no business starting in the NBA.
     
  16. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Contributing Member

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    This is a bit overstated I think.
    Cassell famously hit that three in Game 3 in NY.

    But Kenny had his own big moments. He was a huge part of the Game 1 comeback win against the Magic, including hitting the three with basically no time left to send it to overtime.

    Kenny had a couple real good years early in his career. On the Rockets he rightly was a great role player. But a needed one. I'd take Rockets Kenny Smith in a heartbeat. In the two championship years for example he shot 44% from three in the playoffs. For that matter he **** like 48% from three in 68 playoff games. Open looks created by others? Sure... But he hit em.
     
  17. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Apparently some of you who only remember kenny from basically two playoff series, knicks and magic weren't really deeply into the rockets.

    Name me a rockets point guard who started 455 games and had at least a season with 7.7 assists and 17 points.

    Try.
     
  18. UTKaluman597

    UTKaluman597 Contributing Member

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    Its been proven time and time again you dont need a star PG to win a title, in fact the only teams I can think of with a big named PG to win one in the recent past have been the Spurs (when Parker got finals MVP), Celtics with Rondo, and maybe you throw Billups from Detroit into the mix but thats it. With Kenny and Sam we had a great 1-2 punch because those guys were complimentary to one another. Kenny was the stable hand who played conservatively and only shot when wide open. Sam was more of a scorer and creator but could get reckless from time to time which is when Kenny would check back in. In later years it was kenny's lack of consistency on either end of the floor that led to his decrease in PT, and its hard to blame a guy for being frustrated with everything at that point. Most athletes have a tough time seeing the writing on the wall and I think the same thing could be said of Kenny during his last year or so with the Rockets. But hes back to being a fan now and hopefully is the one national voice whos not a hater of Clutch City.
     
  19. Baqui99

    Baqui99 Contributing Member

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    Derek Harper says hi.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

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    Kenny Smith pretty much disowned the Rockets on the media. It used to sting, but not that much anymore.

    I'm not expecting JVG level of enthusiasm, but he just rolls over whenever the Rockets come into the convo. He thinks he's acting like a moderate in front of Chuck but it reminds me more like those cable news shout fests where you have a turd on one side and a sack of dicks on the other... all pretending to be all fair and balanced.
     

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