Many know about the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, a way of linking the actor to any Hollywood celebrity through no more than six people. But some may be unaware of the three degrees of separation that former CSU hoops standout and current Philadelphia 76er Jason Smith now shares with Denver Nuggets star Allen Iverson.
The connection between Smith, the second Ram ever to get drafted in the first round, and Iverson, the point guard with the third-highest scoring average in NBA history (28.0), started last December when Philadelphia sent A.I. westward in exchange for veterans Andre Miller and Joe Smith along with a pair of 2007 first round picks.
The second degree happened last Thursday night in New York when the Miami Heat selected Smith with the 20th pick of the NBA Draft. Miami never actually had any intentions of keeping the 7-footer, but knew his worth to Philadelphia holding the very next pick at 21.
Miami general manager Randy Pfund discussed the trade negotiations he had with Philadelphia President Billy King the night of the draft during a press conference last Friday.
“We had talked a couple times early in the day, but (King) called a couple picks before and said he might be willing to throw a second round pick and some cash for us to make sure they got the guy they wanted, so, why not?” said Pfund. “They threw in a little bit of cash and we got the guy we wanted.”
The Sixers went on to select Ohio State guard Daequan Cook with the 21st pick, setting up the third and final step of the equation that links two of the state’s greatest basketball players.
Philadelphia sent Cook, a 2009 second round pick and cash considerations to Miami in exchange for Smith, who watched the draft from a local restaurant with family and friends. “I had a great time at Colorado State, but it was time to move on to the next level,” said Smith during a post-draft teleconference. “They’re a really young team. I’m excited for this whole process.”
Considering Philadelphia gave up a few commodities to get Smith, it’s clear the team thinks highly of the 21-year-old who tallied the second-most double-doubles in school history. The former Ram initially made an impression on his new team with a pre-draft workout on June 6.
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks discussed that workout when Smith and the three other draft acquisitions were introduced to the media at a press conference in Philadelphia on Saturday.
“I don’t think it’s all about one workout,” said Cheeks. “I think it was about those individual players themselves. I remember Jason when he came in with (LSU’s) Glen Davis. I think Glen Davis slipped once or twice, and the ball went out of bounds twice, and he continued to play and go get the basketball and go dunk the basketball, and I think all those guys came in with the same type of work ethic that Jason brought. And I think those are the things that they’re going to bring to our table and things that we need.
You can never underestimate guys that are going to work the way they work.”
Smith’s professional career will start Friday when Philadelphia plays San Antonio in the first game of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
So while the question will be asked of whether Smith made the right choice in skipping his senior season, the Kersey native will forever be linked to the player referred to as “The Answer.”
Because without Iverson’s trade to the Nuggets, the Sixers would’ve never ended up with an additional first round pick (No. 21), which although wasn’t used directly on Smith, it was certainly the centerpiece in sending “J-Smooth” from the home of the New Belgium Brewing Company to the home of the Liberty Bell.
Sports editor Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.