“Hey, I just realized, you play for the Cavaliers, right?” J.R. Smith’s waiter said as he set the basketball player’s food down in front of him.
“Yeah, that’s me,” J.R. replied, easily adopting the joking, friendly attitude that he reserved for fans. “When you didn’t recognize me right away I thought I would finally get a meal in peace!”
“It’s kinda dim in here, plus we don’t normally get sports stars in this little place,” the waiter replied, gesturing towards the understated decorations of the small Italian restaurant. “Man, you torched us in isolation tonight. Like, twenty points off the bench, was it?”
“Nineteen,” J.R. corrected, but at the mention of the word “bench”, his demeanor turned icy. “But it would have been a lot more if the coaches put me in the starting lineup like I deserve.”
“Yeah, for sure,” agreed the waiter, who had seen enough angry customers to realize when to stop with the jokes and the glibness. “Anyway, enjoy your meal, and let me know if there’s anything else.”
“They benched me,” J.R. stated in a flat voice, his eyes staring straight ahead. “They benched me for Rodney Hood.” The waiter didn’t know if he was supposed to be listening to the Cavalier player’s monologue, but he stayed anyway as J.R. continued to speak. “Now LeBron is mad, the fans are mad, we’re losing more games than we should, and the media is crucifying us. All because of the dumbass coaches and their vendetta against me.”
“Yeah, you should start for sure,” added the waiter, hoping that the player’s meltdown wouldn’t affect his tip.
J.R. didn’t seem to hear the waiters words as he gripped his bowl of soup dangerously with two hands that quaked with anger. “Rodney Hood is ruining my career,” he mumbled. Suddenly, he picked up his bowl of steaming-hot Minestrone soup and threw it at the waiter, who dropped to the ground and screamed in pain as the scalding soup burned the skin of his face.
As other diners rushed to the waiter’s aid, J.R. calmly got up from the table and walked towards the exit. “I ain’t coming off no bench,” he said aloud to himself when he got outside and randomly chose a direction to start walking. “J.R. Smith doesn’t get benched.” When an ambulance zoomed by him going in the opposite direction, he failed to make the connection with his recent actions. “Maybe I should pay Rodney a visit.”