There are many reasons that the New York Knicks were eliminated from the 2012 NBA playoffs by the Miami Heat and, make no mistake, the media and fans in the Big Apple will exhaust them all before the team plays its next game.
Among the myriad factors that led to the Knickerbockers' quick exit from the postseason tournament after just five games are the injuries suffered by guards Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert and Jeremy Lin. Embarrassingly, Amar'e Stoudemire was also forced to miss Game 3 after slicing open his hand by punching a fire extinguisher. The disparity of field goal attempts between Carmelo Anthony (31) and Stoudemire (7) in Game 5, and throughout the series, will certainly be discussed, too. There was also, of course, the matter of the Miami Heat, perhaps the most physically dynamic team in the NBA.
Somewhere mixed among these reasons was the performance of reserve guard J.R. Smith, who shot 3 for 15 from the field in the Game 5 loss. Although Smith's thrilling dunk in Game 3 provided the highlight of the series for the 'bockers, he was largely ineffective during the postseason, inspiring a small but vocal contingent of Knicks fans to take out their frustrations on him via Twtter.
Rather than shy away from the bad reviews of his performance, Smith began retweeting some of his critics. All of a sudden, his timeline was filled with people calling him out for playing poorly. Smith even tweeted about the negativity that he was seeing.
As the 26-year-old let his more than 118,000 Twitter followers know that he was undaunted by these critics, a few came to his defense.
ESPN New York reported in April that Smith is likely to decline a player option on his contract to enter free agency. Will this interaction with the fans affect his decision? Of course, Knicks fans merely calling out a player for his performance is far better than the racism and death threats that have hit Twitter as other professional sports teams have been dumped from the playoffs in recent months.