Steven Delano Smith (born March 31, 1969, in Highland Park, Michigan).
Steve Smith was drafted, in number 5 overall, by the Miami Heat in 1991 NBA Draft. He played for the Heat for three years and made an immediate impact as he helped the franchise reach the 1992 NBA play-0ffs for the first time in its short history (founded in 1989). Although he had an impact in the league and was considered a young star with a lot of potential, he was not that advertised. That is why I was really surprised when I saw his name included in Dream Team’s (version 2) roster. In fact I believe that he was at least one level below the rest of the players on that roster, at that time, that is why his selection was surprising.
This was the moment that most of us, that lived outside the US, learned Steve Smith, even though his playing time was limited with Dream Team II he was introduced to the world and from the next season we were all expecting to see how the, until recently, unknown Dream Teamer performs in the NBA. The truth is that we have just seen him playing against the Bulls in 92 play-offs where from a point and on MJ had fun with him (as with the rest of the Heat defence).
Smith finished his Heat career at the beginning of the 1994-95 season averaging 15.2 points, 3.9 redounds and 5.0 assists per game. Because of his style of play and his height (6’8) was considered by many as something like the Magic Johnson of the poor. ‘Smitty’ would prove, in the following seasons, that he had his own playing style and that was a star with a deadly perimeter shoot in his arsenal that every team would like to have in her roster. Smith played two games for the Heat at the beginning of 1994-95 season and then was traded to the Atlanta Hawks (with Grant Long for Kevin Willis and a 1996 1st round Draft pick).
In Atlanta Smith played the best basketball of his career. He stayed there till the end of the 90s and then he was traded to Portland. Smith was the star alongside Dikembe Mutombo of a really good Hawks’ team that missed just a piece or the factor that transforms good teams to championship teams. In fact the closest they got to a championship was the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in three cases: in 1996 the lost to the Magic 4-1, in 1997 they lost to the Bulls 4-1 and in 1999 they lost to the Knicks 4-0.
Smith’s best season was 1997-98 where he was averaging 20.1 ppg., 4.2 rpg. and 4.0 apg. in the regular season and 24.8 ppg., 2.8 rpg. and 2.3 apg. during the first round playoffs loss to Hornets (3-1). At that season he has been selected to participate as a sub, for the East squad, in the only all-star appearance of his career. In the previous season ( 14 March 1997) Smith made nine three-pointers (including 7 in a quarter) on his way to a 36 point performance against Seattle.
I really liked the attitude of Steve Smith on the court and towards the game. I liked the fact that except from his talent he knew the game, he possessed the fundamentals so good that could make a difference in the game by just being in the right place the right moment. He did not have to do anything fancy he could get everybody excited by making a simple but brilliant pass or a footwork that seamed so simple but made his shoot impossible to defend. He was one of the players that I enjoyed watching play and I was really happy for him when he played for the Spurs and finally won an NBA title (2003).