J.R. Smith for riding scooter without license -- but is minor bust reminder of major problems?

TMZ's item about J.R. Smith's arrest in Miami over the weekend for driving a scooter without a license is punctuated with this exclamation: "THUG LIFE!!!!"

Yes, the bust's minor. But is it also a reminder to the Nuggets that inking J.R. long-term means living with this kind of stuff and possibly worse?

Smith has prompted plenty of extracurricular headlines in recent years, many of them unfortunate. Remember coverage of his jail sentence for a 2007 crash that killed one of his friends? Word following the robbery of his home that he'd had $15,000 in cash on hand for use as "gambling money"? Or allegations that he'd choked practice player Damien Lolar amid a workout that got too frenzied?

And that's not to mention his lack of on-court discipline, or his proclivity for speaking out at the least appropriate times, as when he whined about a lack of playing time, and threatened to sign elsewhere, in the midst of a playoff series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder that the Nuggets promptly lost.

No doubt Smith is mega-talented. But so is Brandon Marshall -- but after he was stabbed by his wife during the offseason, how many Broncos fans wish the team had acceded to his demands and thrown big bucks his way despite a history of domestic violence accusationsdomestic violence accusations?

Yes, the Nuggets could use Smith's scoring punch, particularly in the wake of Carmelo Anthony's departure. But if Nugs brass ponies up to keep him in powder blue, they should do so with the full knowledge that his next brush with the law could be right around the corner. And it might not be as easy to dismiss as a scooter-riding beef.

More from our Sports archive: "J.R. Smith calls out Kobe Bryant on Twitter -- and rips the media for reading his tweets."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts