Phil Jackson Assigned Dennis Smith Jr. Wild Task In Knicks Pre-Draft Meeting


It’s important for NBA teams to do their due diligence before drafting a player, but the scouting process often takes a bizarre turn.

Teams sometimes  hit draft prospects with offbeat, non-basketball related questions in hopes of better understanding the player. But in the case of Dennis Smith Jr., one interested club put him up to an eating challenge.

Smith was one of the better point guards in this year’s draft class due to his explosiveness and relentless nature on the court. So the Knicks, who owned the No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft, arranged a meeting with the North Carolina State product in New York. But during the dinner portion of the pre-draft meeting, Phil Jackson put Smith up to an unusual test.

“We went out to some restaurant and they had me eat some octopus, like an actual octopus tentacle,” Smith told the New York Daily News. “First time ever. I wasn’t going to try it, honestly. They kind of put the pressure on me to do it.”

The Knicks must have not been thrilled with Smith’s hesitance to eat the octopus, as the team instead opted for Frank Ntilikina at No 8. The Dallas Mavericks selected Smith one pick later at No. 9.

Jackson since has been relieved of his duties as the Knicks president of basketball operations, so we imagine New York’s method of scouting players has become much more conventional.

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images

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