It wasn’t until Russ Smith found himself surrounded by cherry trees, waterfalls and miles of bright-green foliage among the Fujian province in China that he began to truly appreciate the little things.
Maybe it was the 62 points he averaged in China’s National Basketball League, or the 81 he dropped with Luoyang in 2017. But mostly, as Russ tells us over Zoom, it was the time he spent alone that allowed him the needed headspace to fall in love with a new craft, bourbon.
“It allowed me to really take in what I was doing and just be happy again. My first three years as a pro, yeah, I was getting paid pretty well, but I was unhappy,” he says. “I want to be respected for my craft. And I think that means more to me, my craft being appreciated, my creativity being appreciated.”