LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) – Russ Smith knows now more than ever, it takes more than just on-court skills to make it in the NBA

“It’s a business,” said the 25-year-old Smith.  “It’s more so than just a league. It’s something most people don’t understand.”

Smith certainly understands it. His second season in the NBA was even more frustrating than his first. The 6-0 guard came to Memphis hoping for a shot, instead rode the bench before getting waived in December.

“You can’t point the finger and say ‘why this?,’ “ why that?’ You have to accept it and move on.”

And so he did. Back to the D-League.

In January, the former Louisville Cardinal was acquired by Delaware 87ers. They told him he would come off the bench.

No problem. He'd figure out a way to show them. 

 “I knew I had to work hard,” said Smith. “In the 25 minutes I was playing, I averaged 30 points a game.”

Smith quickly became a one man show.  One night he scored 50. Then 40. Then four nights later, a D-League record 65 point performance. He hoped it would be a breakthrough moment. Instead, he received word he needed to pass more.

Smith still never got the call to return to the NBA. As you can imagine, he is frustrated but he is not giving up his NBA dream.  This summer he plans to play summer league ball with the Blazers.

“You know,” he says.  “Eventually a door has to open.”

One door that appears closed for Smith is the D-League..

“I am not interested in going to the D-League ever again,” said Smith. “I’m determined to get back to the NBA.”

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