An hour before their scheduled team practice, Cavaliers assistant coach Damon Jones cautiously approached J.R. Smith in the locker room. “Hey J.R. What’s up?”
J.R. carefully slurped his spoonful of piping-hot chicken noodle soup before answering. It had just been taken out of an extra-long cycle in the microwave, so he had to be very careful not to let it burn his tongue. “This isn’t good, is it? I did something stupid again, didn’t I?”
Damon was quick to allay J.R.’s fears. “No, no, nothing you did. It’s more like, we’re thinking of going in a different direction for next game. You know, as a team.”
The hot bowl of soup was burning his hands as he held it over his lap, so J.R. gently set it in between his legs on the chair. He always had trouble interpreting people when they weren’t being direct, and this instance was no exception. “Come on, man, you know I don’t know what you’re talking about. Tell it to me straight.”
Damon took a deep breath, as if fearful of J.R.’s reaction to his next words. “We’re gonna try starting Rodney for the next game.”
For a while, there was silence as J.R. contemplated this new information. Finally, he said in a quiet voice, “Why would you do that to me, Damon?”
“Well, we thought that, as a former sixth man of the year, that you could bolster our bench scoring, and-”
“ENOUGH! SHUT UP!” J.R. yelled, suddenly standing up with the bowl of soup in his hands, which were trembling with rage. “I ain’t practicing under these conditions. I don’t need to be treated this way.”
“J.R., it’s about what’s best f-”
“I SAID SHUT UP!” J.R. repeated, and to make his point, he threw the nearly-full bowl of soup directly at Damon’s face.
Damon clutched his face and fell to the ground as the hard ceramic bowl filled with burning liquid hit him right in the eye socket. “AAAAAAH! I’M BLIND! I’M BLIND! AAAAAAH!” He rolled around on the locker room floor, clawing at the burned, partially melted skin of his face.
“That’s what happens when you try to start somebody else over me,” J.R. said coldly, looking down at his coach with no trace of sympathy in his eyes. “Maybe you’ll think better of it next time.”