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Joe Smith and the Burden of High Hopes

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Dmitry Beliakov
Dmitry Beliakov

Joe Smith has not had a bad career by most standards.  He's played in more than 1,000 games, logged more than 25,000 minutes, scored more than 11,000 points and made, according to one estimate, nearly $60 million in NBA salary over 15 years.  He's outlasted all but five members of his 1995 draft class. 

Problem is that he was drafted overall No. 1 in the class, ahead of Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess. That, more than his longevity and record of production, is what sticks in people's minds when they hear his name.  No matter to Avery Johnson and his teammates.  Smith is the consummate pro, at 35, Joe Cool as well as Joe Beast.