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My biggest regret after earning millions from NBA – J.R Smith

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J.R Smith regret
J.R Smith regret. Photo/People
  • R Smith of Cleveland Cavaliers has a mountain of regrets
  • He spent millions of dollars on the luxuries of life
  • He retired in 2021 and enrolled for a degree

R Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers has a mountain of regrets about how he spent his hard-earned millions.

Smith, double NBA champion looks back and wishes he channeled all his monies to the community. Instead, most of it went to buying flashy clothes and huge team fines. He never had the abandon of spending.

His is a sad story that has left many star athletes depressed, hopeless and in self-loathe. Gladly, he picked up the lessons in good time while still young.


The Cleveland Cavaliers champion spent a lot of money on clothes, NBA fines and a series of nightclubs. J.R Smith recalls using his $90 million salary over 16 NBA seasons to settle fines assessed by his teams or the league.

The ex-shooting guard is now counselling young people to learn from his mistakes and says he wishes he had invested more time in giving back to his community.

J.R Smith NBA

J.R Smith NBA. Photo/Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to I Am Athlete podcast, hosted by ex-NFL player Brandon Marshall, Smith was full of regrets. He wishes that he did something for his community other than bad spending habits.

“I could have fed my whole community 10 times over with the money I was just [paying in fines for being] late on the bus,” he said.  “You know how many people you can change [their] lifestyle with $10 million in our hood? We’d rather go throw $60,000 in the strip club…than go feed 2,500 people in the hood.”


J.R Smith first NBA draft in 2004 put him on over a decade-long course where he played for five teams. They are:

  • New Orleans Hornets: 2004-2006
  • Denver Nuggets: 2006-2011
  • New York Knicks: 2012-2015
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 2015-2019
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 2019-2020

The New Jersey-born NBA star won two NBA championships during his stint with Cleveland Cavaliers (2016-2019) and with Los Angeles Lakers (2019-2020).

After the 2015–2016 NBA season, Smith re-signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers and agreed to a four-year, $57 million contract with the club in October 2016. Smith and the Cavaliers, however, decided to part ways during the 2018–19 NBA season after he appeared in just 11 games.

The reason for this was because Smith was not a part of the Cavaliers’ long-term plans as they were in the process of rebuilding their club.

Following his departure from the Cavaliers, Smith signed on with the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2019–2020 NBA campaign, where he won his second NBA title. Worth noting is that he played for Lakers as a free agent that season.

He mainly served as a shooting guard off the bench and made six regular-season appearances and clocked 44 minutes of action. He participated in 10 games throughout the playoffs, scoring 2.8 points on average. After this season as a free agent, he took on the infamous involuntary retirement which is why he keeps looking back to the mistakes he made during his prime career days.


J.R Smith NBA

J.R Smith NBA. Photo/Hoops Habit

For starters, J.R Smith regrets bad financial choices he made during his NBA career which came in early. Growing up in Lakewood, New Jersey, a modest working-class neighbourhood Sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia Smith landed his first NBA draft straight out of high school. The New Orleans Pelicans chose him for the 2004 NBA Draught.

In his bag of regrets, is his expensive taste for designer wear which never made him feel satisfied either. He wanted more of it.

“I felt like I had everything, but I still wasn’t whole with me, because I knew there was something missing,” he added in the podcast.


After leaving the NBA in 2021, Smith enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, the biggest HBCU in the nation, to pursue a degree in liberal arts. He plays golf for the school and states that he chose an HBCU because he knew his tuition would help Black students get a better education.

He opines that donations to HBCU go a long way in changing lives and making America a better country.  What is unclear is if the ex-Cleveland Cavaliers player made any donations outside of tuition or supported notable charitable causes since leaving the NBA.

The request for comment from CNBC Make It did not receive a prompt response from Smith. But as he noted in the interview, “small” sums of money for high earners could easily be sums of money that change someone else’s life.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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