The Brooklyn Nets gave Dorian Finney-Smith a one-day excused absence earlier this week for good reason.
The power forward reunited with his father, Elbert, after Elbert had served close to 29 years at the Greensville Correctional Center in Virginia.
Finney-Smith was with his mother and sister at the prison when his father was finally released.
“We just hugged,” Finney-Smith said. “A long, long hug. So many questions and stuff that we have. It was very emotional.”
Questions indeed, probably about the fateful day that landed Smith in jail.
Elbert Smith and Diefen McGann each had a handgun Jan. 25, 1995, when they tried to collect a debt from Willie Anderson at an auto body shop. But it all took a wrong turn after Anderson attempted to retrieve McGann’s gun. Smith lunged at Anderson with a knife, causing Anderson to drop the gun. But McGann shot Anderson three times, killing him.
Both were charged with first-degree murder. McGann accepted a plea deal and served five years in prison. Smith declined that same deal, though, since it was McGann who fired the shots. However, Smith was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 44 years.
But with the help of Finney-Smith’s former team, the Dallas Mavericks, Smith was paroled in July. Although the two remained in contact, their hug marked the first time they touched one another since Finney-Smith was a toddler.
“He’s here for Christmas; that’s what matters. This is the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten,” Finney-Smith said. “Besides the births of my kids, this is up there with the best days I’ve ever had.”
“Definitely as an organization we were very supportive of [Finney-Smith] flying back and being there for that special day,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. “You never know what guys are dealing with when they’re playing on the floor.”
Upon Finney-Smith’s return to the Nets Wednesday, they lost to the New York Knicks.
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