INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – As a member of the New York Knicks, J.R. Smith frequented the nightclub in the Chelsea section of New York, where the Indiana Pacers' Chris Copeland and the Atlanta Hawks' Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic were involved in a late-night incident this week. Now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Smith says one of his rules for going out could have helped from keeping the situation his NBA brethren found themselves in from ever occurring.
"For me, I feel like a target every time," Smith said after Cavs shootaround Friday in advance of their game with the Boston Celtics. "So, I try to handle myself with care when I'm out and about. It's one of those situations when you're out at 4 in the morning -- I'm not saying it's [Copeland's] fault by any means -- but when you're out at 4 in the morning, there's no way you should be walking anywhere. Get in your car and go home or go wherever you're going. That's one of my cardinal rules. You don't just stand outside of the events like that. You just get in and go and keep it moving."
Copeland suffered stab wounds to his left elbow and abdomen, while the Hawks players were both arrested as a result of the incident, with Sefolosha suffering a season-ending leg injury in the process.
"I've never seen anything like that at all," Smith said. "You hear about stuff like that all the time, but seeing it firsthand? I've never seen it."
Smith told NBA.com's David Aldridge in January that Cleveland was "the best situation for me" in part because, "There's nothing you expect but basketball. There's nothing, there's no going out, there's no late nights. There's video games, basketball and basketball."
Despite the bubble that Cleveland offers compared to New York, Smith said the incident wasn't unique to the 1Oak nightclub, where it occurred.
"Situations like that can happen anywhere," Smith said. "It just unfortunately happened to Chris Copeland in New York. As far as it happening, it could go down anywhere. It could be in the nicest places, it could be in the worst places. It's just one of those situations where you're at the wrong place at the wrong time."
He had nothing but positive things to say about 1Oak, in fact.
"It's a great place to be if you want to have a good time," Smith said. "It was one of my favorite places when I was there. You get to see people: The Leonardo DiCaprios, the Rihannas, the Jay Zs, Beyonces and people of that sort. So, if you don't get a chance to go to concerts and stuff like that, it's a good chance. It's where you see people and it's a good vibe."
The 11-year veteran said that late nights are a product of the NBA schedule to some extent.
"We fly in late all the time, so then we go out [late]," Smith said. "Guys like to have a good time. Just like the average college student. It just so happens that we got a lot of money, we're young and famous, and people want to want to see us and we like to be seen.
"It just comes with the territory."