Zhejiang Chouzhou’s J.R. Smith was in very obvious pain after injuring his right knee during their opening round game against Guangdong. (Photo: Osports via Sina)
The excitement surrounding the Chinese Basketball Association’s opening weekend was quickly replaced with shock last night as a national audience saw Zhejiang Chouzhou’s star NBA import, J.R. Smith, go down with what appears to be a serious knee injury.
Midway through the fourth quarter of the Golden Bulls’ regular season opener on the road against four-time defending champion, Guangdong Hongyuan, Smith made a quick cut towards the basket and was quickly picked out for a pass by his teammate on the wing. But the pass was deflected and as Smith tried to plant his left foot to quickly change direction, his left knee buckled violently, which caused his right foot to tangle up awkwardly. He immediately collapsed to the ground with what reports are calling a right knee injury.
At the time, Zhejiang was down 100-64. Guangdong went on to win the game 111-78. Smith finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Smith was taken to the bench, where he was in visible pain. After receiving basic treatment, he was then taken to the team’s locker room. He was later carried by teammates to an ambulance outside the arena.
But once in the ambulance, Smith rejected further treatment and testing. According to Sina Sports, Smith refused to go to a hospital in DongGuan and instead asked to be taken back to the team hotel. As of now, Smith has not undergone an MRI on his knee, and there is no official word on the extent of his injury.
“Right now we’re still on the road,” said Zhejiang general manager, Zhao Bing, who talked to reporters last night after the game. “We’re waiting to get back to Yiwu to make a decision. Once we’re there, we’ll decide on what the next step will be.”
Smith left with the team this morning on a plane back to Yiwu, Zhejiang province, the Golden Bulls’ home city. He is reported to be heading to Beijing next, where he will have more comprehensive testing done by a sports doctor. On his Twitter account, Smith said he would get an MRI today.
Smith, along with Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin, is one of three Denver Nuggets to have signed in China this season. Like his former teammates, and every other NBA-to-CBA player who has signed this season, Smith was not allowed to sign an out-clause that would have allowed him a free return to the United States when the NBA lockout ended.
Chandler, who scored 43 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in his team’s opening night win against Tianjin last night, signed with Zhejiang Guangsha and Kenyon Martin signed with Xinjiang Guanghui. Xinjiang had a Round 1 bye this weekend. They will open their season on the road in Round 2 on Wednesday against Shanxi Zhongyu.