CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts while taking on the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images
March 29, 2018 6:32 PM EDT

Although J.R. Smith, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ shirtless wonder, has had a rocky season so far, he went off during a game versus the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night, having one of the best games he’s had all season — something he attributes to a dog named Remi.

Smith, who visited the University of North Carolina’s baseball team ahead of the Cavs-Hornets game, also had the good fortune to hang out with Remi, a service dog for the team. According to ESPN, the meeting was facilitated by Head athletic trainer for the Cavs, Steve Spiro.

“We had a great opportunity today to do something for our players outside of the normal routine on a back-to-back,” Spiro said. “We looked for it to be a potentially very positive impact in a casual setting where the guys could enjoy being around Remington, who is an extremely loving and talented service/therapy dog.”

Following his time with Remi, Smith shot 8-for-9 from the field, scoring 19 points for the Cavs; the night also resulted in five boards, three assists, and three steals for the NBA player, something that Smith emphatically credits his newfound canine friend for.

“For me, it was exactly what I needed,” Smith said. “Took my mind off the game so it could make me feel better.”

The positive effect that Remi had on Smith’s emotions that night was something that the Cavs player did not take for granted.

“It was right on time, especially for me,” Smith said. “I’m an emotional person. I live in my head. I don’t really express a lot of things. But let’s just say it was right on time.”

Mental health has been a big focus for the Cavaliers this season, with Smith’s teammate Kevin Love even writing an essay for The Player’s Tribune about his experience with anxiety.

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Write to Cady Lang at

Read More From TIME
You May Also Like