The Classical's (giggly/gleeful/ecstatic/concerned) editorial position on J.R. Smith is a matter of public record, by this point. This means that we spent a lot of time passing around various highlight videos of Earl scoring 60-odd points in the Chinese league, some of them set to the unfortunate and deeply Wycleffed sounds of vanished Chinese-American rapper Jin. In these clips, which I might as well admit were my first experience of Chinese Basketball Association basketball, I saw... well, you can watch for yourself, although I'd mute the music unless you want to hear Jin speak his ethnic pride over a Clef-factory beat featuring plinky-plink "oriental sounds" and periodic shouts of "Konichiwa."
Not to spoil anything, but in this video you will see J.R. Smith taking over a game in the J.R. Smith-iest way possible, which is to say through step-back three-pointers and crossovers and other playgroundery elevated to the level of berserk art. It's awesome, but it's fair enough to figure that this is just J.R. being J.R., right?
Right. But while, to a certain extent, that is indeed what it is (and wonderful, for that), it turns out that this might also just be the Chinese Basketball Association every day. "This," in this case, being everyone playing as if they're wearing roller skates and the ball had been given a Paula Deen-ian butter-glaze before the tip-off, except for the few American players, who seem mostly baffled by the strange version of the game they're getting paid to play and the players playing it alongside them. It might be unfair to make that assessment based on this 40-second video from the CBA All-Star Game, which came to our attention via Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie, and was created by Anthony Tao of Beijing Cream. But what other conclusions are to be drawn from this, which is, as Dwyer reminds us, from an actual All-Star Game?
The Chinese Basketball Association, then, is kind of like the Pac-10, with less coaching, maybe? A broken video game? What would happen if Stephon Marbury showed up at Sarah D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side and got into a pickup game involving me and my friends? It's tough to say, although it does seem clear that Aaron Brooks appears to have less talent on his All-Star side than he did at Oregon.
Deadspin's Timothy Burke, because it's what he does, has flipped a version of this video with appropriate music. But I prefer the version above, which comes with only the sound of baffled announcers, squeaking sneakers, and the meaty thump of passes thudding off unsuspecting and extravagantly unprepared body parts. It's purer, that quiet. Is it awe? Dismay? Results may vary, but in my case it was both.