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The NBA’s Great Soup-Throwing Survey: Four Key Questions About J.R. Smith’s Suspension

The Cavaliers guard was suspended for reportedly chucking a bowl of soup at assistant coach Damon Jones. Our staff has many thoughts.

J.R. Smith holding a bowl of soup AP Images/Ringer illustration

On Thursday evening, news broke that J.R. Smith was suspended for the Cavaliers’ matchup with the 76ers. On Friday morning, ESPN reported that the reason for this one-game suspension was because Smith threw a bowl of soup at Cleveland assistant coach Damon Jones. This raised many questions among The Ringer’s resident soup connoisseurs, who have put careful consideration into offering their hottest soup takes.

What do you think prompted J.R. Smith to throw a bowl of soup?

Miles Surrey: First of all, I’m thrilled that the details of this suspension have leeked (sorry). It immediately becomes one of my favorite moments of the season, next to Russell Westbrook’s Swole SpongeBob game, when he went off against my beloved Wizards after incorrectly assuming that he was the last pick in the All-Star Game draft.

I have no idea what Jones could have said, or done, to prompt a soup-tossing, but I can’t imagine this fracas didn’t start with J.R. bringing up LeBron’s disrespectful posterization of Jones in 2005. If we’re being honest, that’s all anyone knows about Damon Jones—much like Wesley Johnson will forever be linked to James Harden covering his ankles in Crisco on Wednesday night.

Rodger Sherman: J.R. is more benevolent than we give him credit for.

Here’s how it undoubtedly went down: Damon Jones walked into the room, sniffed the air, and was intrigued. “Somebody in here is eating something delicious,” he said.

J.R. grinned. “I think it’s my Italian wedding soup, Dame!”

Damon grew quizzical. “Hey, what’s the deal with those? Do they taste like a wedding? Are they traditionally served at weddings? Did they try to put a whole wedding inside a bowl?”

“Hold on,” J.R. replied. “You mean to tell me you’ve never had Italian wedding soup? It’s delicious. Here, take a spoonf—”


Andrew Gruttadaro: I’m assuming Damon spoiled the end of the new Jason Bateman film, Game Night.

Jason Gallagher: If the Cavs’ locker room is anything like The Ringer’s newsroom, then I’d say this had to do with The Shape of Water.

Kate Knibbs: The only thing that would logically separate man from soup is pure rage.

Rob Harvilla: This was the result of existential ennui in the face of the inevitability that the Cavs will be beaten like gongs in the NBA Finals (again), plus either J.R.’s intense dissatisfaction with the soup or intense satisfaction such that he wanted to share it with others.

Haley O’Shaughnessy: Here’s what happened. On the afternoon of March 1, 2018, Jones tweeted that he was the best shooter alive.

J.R. Smith was present at Thursday’s morning shootaround, but was suspended two hours before that night’s game, a timeline that matches up with Damon’s braggadocious tweet. J.R. must have been enjoying a nice can of Campbell’s when he scrolled past it, and he wasted no time fighting to take back his rightful title as the best shooter alive.

Sean Yoo: My best guess is that Jones has a long history of making fun of J.R.’s soup-eating habits. From the selection of the soup to the way J.R. eats it, I believe that Smith was so offended by Damon’s incessant remarks that he was left with no other choice.

Paolo Uggetti: J.R. has scored five, two, and four points, respectively, over his last three games. What better way to call out a guy’s slump than over a bowl of soup? My guess is that Jones insulted J.R.’s shot, or recent lack thereof, and J.R. wanted to prove that he could still hit. So ... he did.

Or maybe Jones derided soup as a suitable meal and that enraged known soup loyalist J.R. Smith, who took action. This may be controversial, but I must say: If Jones thinks soup is overrated, I stand with him.

What is the best way to throw a bowl of soup?

Gruttadaro: Like a Frisbee.

Knibbs: Like a Frisbee.

Uggetti: I’ve thought about this a lot more than what kind of soup was thrown. Chucking a bowl of soup seems like a losing proposition for both the thrower and receiver, though I guess depending on the viscosity of the soup, J.R. might not have experienced any splash back. All of which is to say: I think Frisbee style is most effective. The roundness of the bowl makes for an easy grip and tossing motion. Upon impact, this would also have the intended, a-shower-is-instantly-necessary effect on the receiver.

O’Shaughnessy: Throwing the actual bowl, along with its contents, screams criminal charges—not the best way. But to lodge soup, a liquid, with the intention of hitting someone won’t work by just winding the bowl back, underhand-pitch style. The best way to hurl soup is to hold the bowl like you’re about to set a volleyball. Surprise, Damon, soup spike.

Yoo: I don’t think we have yet reached the point where society has settled upon the best way to throw a bowl of soup at someone else. Scientists have debated this for years: Do you hold the bottom of the bowl? Do you use two hands? Do you fling it like a Frisbee to secure optimal rotation through the air? These are the questions that we journalists should focus on in midst of this soup scandal.

Surrey: This is an excellent question. You want to hold onto the bowl and chuck the soup that’s in said bowl toward your intended target. If you don’t, you risk inadvertently spraying soup on yourself and maybe other people who don’t deserve to have soup thrown at them. You don’t want to create more enemies than necessary by napalming broccoli cheddar.

Observe that correct form, via the Big Show, via GIFSOUP.

GIF of the Big Show’s opponent throwing water on him

Sherman: To achieve optimal soup distribution, you’re going to want the bowl to hit your opponent rim-first, so the soup pours out of the bowl onto your rival with minimal shielding from the bowl itself. To achieve this, I’d pick the bowl up with both hands, tilt it slightly toward my opponent, and chest-pass it with enough velocity so that the soup doesn’t slosh onto the floor mid-throw.

Gallagher: Full-throttle chest pass. (Do not try a full-throttle bounce pass.)

Harvilla: The best way to throw soup is while shirtless, and fearless, and possessed of a certain internet-beloved dumbass abandon.

What is the best soup to throw at someone else?

Gruttadaro: It depends on what your goal is. If you want to wreak the most havoc, the best choice is New England clam chowder—that stuff is going to form a paste on someone’s clothes like, four seconds after it lands. Plus, the seafood, you know? If surface area is the name of the game, you should throw a more brothy soup, like split pea or miso. French onion soup—especially with the melted-cheese top layer intact—would be the funniest soup to throw.

Surrey: French onion would be brutal. It’s hot, it’s going to smell like onions, and there’s that whole layer of cheese that will ooze everywhere.

Sherman: My vote is for either tomato or split pea. They’re both thick and tough to clean, and they’re both going to leave a disturbing color on your enemies that makes it clear they’ve been souped.

Harvilla: Split-pea soup is the worst soup, regardless of circumstance.

O’Shaughnessy: The easy answer is a soup with ingredients sure to hit the target: Italian wedding, chunky beef, chicken tortilla, etc. Folks, thin broth is a mistake. Cream of ANYTHING will be both (a) thick enough to go the distance and (b) stinky enough to remind the recipient all day that they were hit with a flying bowl of soup.

Gallagher: I hate to give Boston another championship, but the answer is Boston clam chowder. But remember: Clam chowder cheats. Boooooooooo, clam chowder!

Uggetti: It’s gotta be clam chowder. Cream-based AND clam-filled? The person you hit is going to need to soak in Febreze for a week.

Yoo: The thicker the soup, the better it is to throw at someone. Soups like chowder provide the most weight, allowing the impact of the soup throw to land with the greatest soup ferocity.

Knibbs: If you love the person you are throwing soup at, use one with a thin broth. If you hate that person, go with a chunky chowder.

What is the best soup to have thrown upon you?

Gruttadaro: Anything chicken-broth-based that’s been sitting out for an extended amount of time. That’s pretty low damage, at least as far as soup throws are concerned.

Uggetti: Bone broth. It’s healthy for you! Also, it’d feel like a hot bath.

Harvilla: I ate a lot of Chunky-brand chicken corn chowder as a 20-something, and its smell would likely have pleasant nostalgic connotations for me. On the other hand, that diet left me with a physique not at all conducive to playing pro basketball, so I’m gonna say minestrone.

Sherman: The easy answer is an extremely thin soup—a broth-based soup like chicken noodle, maybe something like a miso. But here’s a hot take. (All soup takes are hot, except, of course, for gazpacho-related takes). I’d like to have a chunky soup thrown on me. Yes, a corn chowder would be difficult to clean, but it’d give you the opportunity to turn the situation around by snagging some of the sweet veggies that wound up on your shirt. Oh, you thought you humiliated me by throwing this soup? Buddy, you just gave me some delicious chunks of potato to snack on. Embarrass your would-be tormentor by visibly relishing every soup item left on your person.

Yoo: There are an endless number of soups I’m passionate about, so it’d feel wrong to choose just one kind to be thrown at me. As long as it’s not split pea or minestrone, I think I’d be happy.

Surrey: Anything cold is acceptable, but I’d go with vichyssoise. Sure, it’s thick, but it’s goddamn delicious. If you’re gonna be covered in soup, it might as well be a soup you’d want to mop off your body with bread.

Knibbs: A refreshing gazpacho on a hot summer’s day.

O’Shaughnessy: Gazpacho. Avoid burns at all cost.

Gallagher: You know when ice cream melts in a bowl? That’s technically soup, so give me that one.