Earl said J.R.’s recent admission he partied too hard in his first season in New York was spot on. Smith signed with the Knicks last February after spending the lockout playing in China. “Coming from China he didn’t do anything for three, four months over there but eat and play,’’ Earl said. “There was no clubbing in China. Of course a young kid comes back and he got caught up with it. That whole experience humbled him, seeing how they lived.’’ The turning point for this season came in March when Smith made it his mission to attack the basket and not settle for his patented step-back jump shot that occasionally failed him.
Earl Smith Rumors
Earl felt Karl had it in for Smith during their five seasons together in Denver. “The assistant coaches loved him there but they couldn’t say anything,’’ Earl Smith said. “There was negativity from Day 1. I was at the practice arena just sitting around and George comes by while J.R. is shooting. I heard George say to the assistants, ‘J.R. Smith, I’m going to bust his ass this year.’ ’’
Smith won the Sixth Man Award on Monday, capping his career season in which he became Carmelo Anthony’s star sidekick, averaging a career-best 18.1 points. Before Game 2 against Boston, Smith, long known as an underachieving renegade, received a thunderous standing ovation at the Garden when presented the trophy. “I got to give all the credit to Knicks organization and Coach Woodson,’’ Earl Smith told The Post yesterday. “When you got a coach like that, anything’s possible.