Anyone who reads this blog, or any basketball blog really, has probably seen "So Right," the hilarious tribute to JR Smith released last week by Milford Jerome. There’s a lot to like about the video: the way it sums up the love some fans have for JR (myself included), covered most of the big moments he’s had as a Knick (whether on- or off-court) and is really professionally edited. Just as important, though, is the song. It sounds good. This Milford Jerome seems like quite a character: a knowledgable JR Smith fan who knows how to sing and edit video. That’s pretty much a set of one. Even Woody Allen and Spike Lee only have two of those attributes.
Not content to let the story of this video drift away into the internet ether, I tapped my extensive contact list and got in touch with Mr. Jerome. What is the mind of a man who made the greatest JR Smith music video of all time like?
Jerome’s Knick roots go back to trips to the Garden with his father in the early-nineties. I don’t know what young Milford was like, but he confided in me that he was attracted to the odd pairing of Xavier McDaniel and Kiki Vandeweghe early on. He got his bearings after that: Charles Oakley, John Starks and a trail of broken childhood playoff dreams left Jerome loving the Knicks in a way no championship ever could.
When the Knicks brought JR on, Jerome couldn’t have been happier. His fascination with Smith went back to 2004 when JR was rumored to be going to UNC, another team Milford’s a big fan of. (Hold up: JR at UNC? He would have made Rasheed Wallace look like Shane Battier. Damn.)
Jerome told me that when he saw Smith in a Knicks jersey he saw “Starks on steroids on a constant mushroom trip.” He meant this as a compliment, adding “I love his swag.”
All this swirled in Jerome’s mind as he was freestyling in the studio with his friends in the band Kidding on the Square. When they started playing a “zooted out organ progression” it made him feel like he could “channel JR” and started putting together the chorus that would form the song’s backbone. The Kidding on the Square guys helped Jerome craft the chorus into a real piece of music and from there it was on to the video. Jerome’s day job in the film editing business meant he had the skills to put together a video that looks as good as “So Right” does.
The video’s break came from a friend of Jerome’s at Complex magazine and from there it was off to the viral video races. The video has well over 500,000 views and has been noticed by quite a few big names, JR included. Smith retweeted Complex’s tweet with the link to the song, adding “LMAO,” and retweeted Kenneth Faried’s declaration that it was “the toughest song out.” Knicks fans Adrock and Fab 5 Freddy got in on the action too, tweeting about how much they loved the song. Jerome even appeared on WFAN’s Boomer and Carton to discuss it last week.
I suggested to Mr. Jerome that there is lots of other material out there for him to mine, even offering to ghost write a song about Chris Childs for him. I tried to convince him to take me up on the offer with my opening line: “drink a case of beer every night/crack Kobe’s jaw in a fight.” I think he politely blew me off: “I’m not sure. Steve, James and I need to circle the wagons and think.” OK, fine.
Much like myself and all the other Knicks fans who sustained so much heartbreak at such a formative age, Jerome’s a Knicks pessimist. I asked him how he thought the season would play out and he answered:
I was so high on this team early, but it was obvious that they rely too heavily on three pointers. They do not score enough in the paint and their defense comes and goes. Their perimeter play remains slow and they get outrebounded too much even with Chandler out there. When you watch them against a team like Indiana their weaknesses become obvious. Indiana throws a bunch of young live bodied wing players at you, while the Knicks just have Melo and JR and a bunch of slower and smaller guards. Felton can penetrate on offense but his defense is suspect. I think Prigioni should play more. Novak is basically useless come playoff time. And as much as I love Melo I still wonder about his mental makeup. I think this team will probably lose in the second round. Worst case scenario, in my opinion, is that they lose to the Celtics in the first round. Sadly, I see longterm scenario in which LeBron will be our roadblock similar to the days of Jordan. If LeBron goes to Cleveland he will team up with Irving and still be the best in the East. It’s hard to see how the Knicks will be able to have the flexibility to retool this roster in any sustainable way that gives us a chance to get younger and better. I love that we are relevant now, but the future could get dark quick.”
Hopefully, Jerome’s long-term view doesn’t play itself out and someday he’s inspired to produce another kind of Knicks music video: a championship one.