By Ray Monell
It’s a silly and sloppy departure from the original, but fun to watch and done with good reason. When New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith dances salsa on a basketball court—a la New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz—it’s to the tune of a game-winning shot as time expires.
Smith, who debuted his version of Cruz’s celebratory dance after defeating the Charlotte Bobcats with a fadeaway jump shot at the end of regulation on Dec. 5, repeated the act vs. the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, sinking a buzzer-beating, baseline jumper to give New York a 99-97 victory.
According to SLAM online, Smith and Cruz, both of whom are New Jersey natives, played AAU basketball together as teenagers. In reaction to Smith’s salsa dance following the Knicks’ victory in Charlotte earlier this month, Cruz stated, “It was good to see. It’s not every day you hit a game-winner and get to salsa on them a little bit.”
Making Smith’s second game-winner of December even more impressive (and important) was that it took place on the road and in the absence of two of New York’s top three scorers: small forward Carmelo Anthony (hyperextended left knee) and point guard Raymond Felton (broken right pinky finger).
Smith is the third-leading scorer on the Knicks this season, averaging 15.7 points with 2.7 assists and five rebounds per game. By winning in Phoenix, the Knicks improved to 21-8. Only the Miami Heat, at 20-6, sport a better win-loss mark than New York in the NBA Eastern Conference.