Smith dubs fans 'bandwagoners'

ByKevin Arnovitz ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ATLANTA -- Houston Rockets forward Josh Smith called Hawks fans "bandwagoners" following the Rockets' 104-96 loss Tuesday at Atlanta.

The interplay between Smith and the Philips Arena crowd was lively throughout the night. Smith, an Atlanta native who played his first nine NBA seasons with the Hawks, was booed loudly whenever he touched the ball. The catcalls grew louder in the third quarter, after Smith drained a 3-pointer that rattled around the rim several times before dropping in. Smith then shushed the crowd by placing his finger over his lips as the Hawks called timeout.

"I mean, those fans are fickle, very fickle and bandwagoners," Smith said. "It really doesn't mean anything to me."

Despite qualifying for the playoffs in Smith's final six seasons in Atlanta, the Hawks never finished in the top half of the NBA in attendance. This season, the Hawks are faring better at the gate and averaging just more than 17,000 per game, their highest total since Smith came into the league.

Smith was a polarizing player during his nine seasons in Atlanta. Chosen by the Hawks with the No. 17 pick in 2004 draft, Smith dazzled fans with his acrobatics, shot-blocking and athleticism. But despite being only a 28.3 percent 3-point shooter, Smith attempted more than 942 shots from beyond the arc as a Hawk. Toward the end of his tenure, a groan would emanate from the crowd at Philips Arena whenever he elevated for a long-range shot.

In 24 minutes Tuesday, Smith finished with 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting from the field, along with seven rebounds, three assists, three turnovers and two blocks. Following the game, he remarked that his 2-for-5 line from long range was "pretty good."

During his time in Atlanta, Smith was active in local charities. In 2011-12, he was nominated by the Professional Basketball Writers Association for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.

"I'd been here for nine years, and all I did was positive things in the community and with the basketball team," Smith said.

In 2013, Smith signed a four-year, $54 million free-agent contract with the Detroit Pistons. Smith struggled in Detroit, which waived him Dec. 22. Four days later, Smith signed with Houston, where he has shot the ball with a bit more proficiency (44.2 percent on field goals).

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