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LEON THE LIP
July 19, 1999
After the Mavericks finished practice on July 6, assistant coach Donnie Nelson told players to run an extra set of sprints. "Why don't you run it?" forward Leon Smith shot back. A surprised Nelson said the comment would cost the rookie Two extra sprints, whereupon Smith flung down his jersey and stalked off the floor.
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July 19, 1999

Leon The Lip

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After the Mavericks finished practice on July 6, assistant coach Donnie Nelson told players to run an extra set of sprints. "Why don't you run it?" forward Leon Smith shot back. A surprised Nelson said the comment would cost the rookie Two extra sprints, whereupon Smith flung down his jersey and stalked off the floor.

Smith, 18, is a 6'10" Chicago high school phenom whose supposed immaturity may have helped scare off every team but Dallas on draft day. He skipped all the major predraft camps, and even his high school coach, Landon Cox, says he shouldn't have come out for the draft. Smith's difficult childhood might help explain his outburst—he grew up in group homes as a ward of the state—but that won't help the woeful Mavs, who gave up the 40th overall pick and a future second-round choice to get him. At least Smith has already mastered two useful NBA moves: refusing to apologize and speaking of himself in the third person. "This is typical me," he said after his run-in with Nelson. "This is Leon every day. I'm not going to change."

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