Known as one of the NBA's streakiest and most confounding players, J.R. Smith has one thing in this world that can truly bring out his absolute best. It's not the leadership of Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James or the friendship of former New York Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony. No, no.
It's the music of his good friend Lil Wayne. Thanks to new data collected by Kenny Ducey of Hashtag Important, we now know that the classic Beatles line, "I get by with a little help from my friends," applies to J.R. and Weezy in a previously unforeseen light.
J.R., whose career scoring average through 11 seasons is 13.2 PPG on 42 percent shooting, sees those numbers increase to 19.5 PPG on 49 percent shooting on the day following a Lil Wayne album or mixtape release, the bulletproof analysis discovered.
J.R. Smith's stats are much better following a Lil Wayne album release.
The trend goes back to 2005, when J.R. was a second-year player for the New Orleans Hornets. Lil Wayne is, of course, a New Orleans native and the pair have been friends since J.R. was drafted by the Hornets out of high school in 2004.
Lil Wayne has gone on to win four Grammy's and J.R. won Sixth Man of the Year in 2013. Their careers have grown since their early New Orleans days, but their friendship has remained tight, statistically speaking.
In November 2009, J.R., in a show of permanent loyalty, got the logo for Lil Wayne's record label tattooed across his neck. A month later, before "We Are Young Money" was released, J.R. popped up for a split-second in Lil Wayne's video for "Bed Rock."
J.R. Smith flashes his Young Money chain in the "Bed Rock" video.
The day after "We Are Young Money" dropped, J.R. went off for 41 points and 10 three-pointers against the Atlanta Hawks. Through thick and thin, they've remained close, working off each other in the pursuit of greatness in all things basketball and hip-hop. More importantly: They've got each other's backs.
The night before Lil Wayne began his prison sentence in February 2010 for gun charges, J.R., an unofficial "Young Money Athlete," called to make sure he was OK. Lil Wayne followed-up by lovingly shouting out J.R. on his Dedication 5 song appropriately titled, "Luv." These two will be friends forever.
If J.R.'s next head coach (he's currently a free agent after declining the player option on his contract with the Cavaliers) wants to get the best out of his mercurial shooter, he should be pounding on Lil Wayne's door to get the rapper's shelved album, "Tha Carter V," released during the 2016 playoffs. The confluence of hearty friendship and good music is the only way to trigger J.R. Smith's best work.
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