Less than two hours before Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets, the Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith was busy dealing with private business, some financial thing even more urgent than the upcoming game- he has only eight minute to have it done before it becomes worse.
Smith was named as the defendant in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Harris District Court by high-profile lawyer Rusty Hardin, who was hired to represent Smith in 2006, after Smith was accused of breaking a player’s jaw in a pick-up game at a Houston recreation center. He managed to help settle the case, but he planned to file a lawsuit claiming Smith failed to pay $22,753.51 in legal fees. Hardin’s attorney threatened to serve Smith with legal papers before Wednesday’s game at the Toyota Center, and Smith made a wire transfer with eight minutes left before the deadline set by Hardin’s attorney, saying that he wasn’t aware that the bills had not been paid and had to “talk to my financial people about that.”
It seems hard to tell how many times Smith has been involved in similar legal and disciplinary issues since putting on NBA jersey six years ago. Last year he had to spend 24 days in a New Jersey correctional facility after pleading guilty to reckless driving, which caused the death of his friend Andre Bell; he was suspended for the first three games of the 2007-08 season after an incident at a night club; during the 2006-07 season he received a 10-game suspension for his role in a fight with the New York Knicks; and even in this week, he was near to another suspension for sulking on the sideline after playing a season-low 12 minutes in last Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Magic, but the team eventually decided not to punish him.