Facts Only

“Did you hear how they’re twisting your words?”

One of my sisters had been trying to get a hold of me for an hour.


I had no idea what she was talking about.

When I found out half the sports world was calling me “greedy,” I wasn’t online or anything. I don’t even have Twitter, man. I was jogging in the park with my family. You couldn’t really even call it jogging because my kids are still pretty small. It’s more like power-walking. My wife and I were trading off pushing our two-year-old son in the stroller. My six-year-old son was all about the workout. My eight-year-old daughter didn’t love it — let’s just put it that way — but she’s eight and wanted to be with her friends, so I get it. My wife and I believe it’s important for us to do outdoor activities together during summer vacation. I call it Smith family fitness time.

So my phone started blowing up. My dad called. Both my sisters called. I knew something was up. I guess I was the last person to find out that I was suddenly in the news. But like I said, I’m not on Twitter or Instagram and I barely watch sports news. I’m kind of old school like that.

Apparently the headline was: Josh Smith went to the Clippers press conference and said he didn’t make enough money? Even the idea of it is kind of ridiculous. Anyone who knows me, or knows how one-year contracts work in the NBA, understood what I was saying. This is my third team in less than a year. I was talking about how moving affects my family. But the headline about greed was the one everyone ran with.

Let’s just look at what I actually said so we don’t get it twisted. This is the quote people shared:

“It wasn’t about the money because of the Detroit situation, but at the end of the day, I do have a family, so it is going to be a little harder on me this year. But I’m going to push through it and try to do something long-term after this year.”

The whole thing about it being “harder on me” comes down to family. It seems obvious to me, but maybe I could have said it more clearly. If you know the NBA, you know that moving to a new team is a decision that affects an athlete’s whole family. That’s even more true when you’re signing a one-year deal. With a one-year deal, there’s less stability because you know you might be moving again in a year.

So I’m out there power-walking with the fam. My first response was, OK, who cares how a few people interpreted it? I know everyone on the Internet likes to be judgmental at one point or another. I try not to be too sensitive to any one thing. But it’s funny, because if you look at my whole statement, no one present at the press conference had any issue with it. Everyone seemed to know what I meant. It wasn’t until later that it took on a life of its own.

When I was waived from Detroit this year, it meant I had to move to Houston in the middle of the year. Like any parent, you think about how your work affects your kids. You want consistency for your kids — consistent teachers, consistent friends, a consistent home. You want some normalcy for them. I wanted to go to the Clippers (that’s a business decision), but I also wanted to be sensitive to how it affected my kids (that’s a personal one). I can tell you that the conversations this offseason between me and my wife were more about where they’d go to school than about finances.

Every athlete has had articles about them that aren’t 100 percent true. Most of the time, it’s not anyone’s fault — it’s just the reality. Earlier this year, everyone was making a big deal about how Detroit went on a winning streak right after I was waived. People had fun with that story. I get it. But to be honest, I wasn’t even mad. Detroit wasn’t the right fit for me at that time. I knew it, they knew it. So they waived me. I never said much in public because I was thinking, Just give me some time to prove myself. A couple months later, at playoff time, look at the damage Houston did. In the league, you just have to be patient.

I came to the Clippers to be part of an exciting team that I know I can play well for. I came to compete for a championship this year. I’m the first person to tell you how grateful I know I am. I’m grateful to have played in this league for going on 12 years — I’ll always have love for the Hawks, where I started — and to have earned a good living. I didn’t grow up wealthy, so I know how much it means to have security.

Now, I’m moving on to basketball, but thanks for reading. I don’t speak up that often, but I felt I needed to clear the air. I wish someone had just asked me for clarification before everyone immediately jumped to negative assumptions. A couple people sometimes ruin it for everyone else. I’ve got no hard feelings, but I do see why some guys are more skeptical about opening up when this type of thing happens.

There’s a little summer left still. I plan to spend it with my family. My kids go back to school next week. In the meantime, we’ll be having cookouts, playing card games, racing go-karts with my kids and just hanging out. I don’t think I’ll be signing up for Twitter any time soon (is @JSmoove taken?), but I’ll see y’all back on the court this fall. I know the Clippers are going to do some special things.