Nuggets Player Learns Not To Mess With Rusty Hardin

J.R. Smith, a guard for the Denver Nuggets, is not exactly having a great year. You know things are going bad when there are headlines like "Denver Nuggets Won't Suspend Guard J.R. Smith For Sulking On Bench."

Or when the headlines are about how you're going to get served with a lawsuit in Houston before a Rockets game because you haven't paid your lawyer.

Smith got out of the second predicament this week when he reached a payment agreement with Rusty Hardin, who had represented Smith in a suit over a punch the Nugget had thrown, breaking a guy's jaw at the Forde Rec Center.

Hardin says the deal to pay him and avoid a suit came mostly from the Nuggets, not Smith.

After Houston Chronicle reporter Jonathan Feigen learned of the plan to serve papers on Smith, he called the Nuggets for comment, Hardin tells Hair Balls, "and they go crazy, because they don't want this kind of issue out there."

"So they start calling and e-mailing us, saying 'Look, we'll make sure you get your payment in 30 days,' although it's no responsibility of the Nuggets and they have nothing to do with it," Hardin says.

In order to "not create a zoo" at the Rockets game, he says, he agreed to the plan.

Hardin is a front-row season-ticket holder for the Rockets, but he says he did not speak with Smith at the game that night.

"I saw him, I didn't talk to him. He got as close as one to two feet, but we didn't -- we didn't talk," he says.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly