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Simone Biles, David Ross and J.R. Smith celebrate the craziest sports year ever

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Dec. 26 / Jan. 2 Issue. Subscribe today!The full interview appeared on SportsCenter and is streaming now on WatchESPN.

SARAH SPAIN: J.R., I know you were at some of those Cubs-Indians games in the World Series. Was it a little frosty at first when you saw David today?
J.R. Smith: No, I was actually worried about his safety being in Cleveland [where the photo shoot took place] right now. I thought I had to be a bodyguard.

SS: What's the thing you hear most often when people meet you?

JRS: "Where is your million-dollar shirt?" I'm like, "It's underneath these $25 Hanes T-shirts I've got on."

SS: What about you, Simone?

Simone Biles: "You look taller on TV." I get that all the time. I know they think I'm taller because it's so close and I look stretched out, but I'm just 4-8.

SS: You don't look very tall on TV either, honey. What do you hear most, David?

David Ross: "You're really not that old." You know, the old grandpa thing -- Grandpa Rossy with KB [Kris Bryant] and Rizz [Anthony Rizzo]. That's how everyone treats me. Then I got back to my hometown, and everyone is like, "I wish I could retire at 39." So they put it in perspective.

JRS: He'll be on my slow-pitch softball team.

DR: Yeah, now we're talking.

JRS: My pinch-runner right here [Biles], she's gonna do real good.

DR: I'm gonna DH. I've never been a good hitter, so the DH thing would be nice in softball.
SS: Speaking of that, your last hit as an MLB player was a home run in the World Series [in Game 7]. What were you thinking in that moment?

DR: Well, I had just gotten in the game and let two runs in. I'm like, "Wait a minute, this isn't what I do. I prevent runs, and I've been in here two seconds and there's two runs in." So I was just happy to get one back, to give us that three-run lead.

SS: J.R., what's one of the most memorable moments of your title run?

JRS: At halftime [of Game 7], one of our oldest guys on the team, James Jones, came to me, and he's like, "Man, it's time for you to do something. You've been sleeping the whole playoffs, the whole final series." First couple of shots I got coming out, I was like, "You know what, I'm gonna shoot it." Fortunately they fell, and we started making our way back.

SS: Was there any part of the celebration where you thought, "I can't believe I'm here right now"?

JRS: The plane ride back with my teammates. I didn't know how to feel. Did this really happen? What just happened? Of course, I'm still shirtless. I'm sitting on the plane, Tristan [Thompson] and LeBron next to me. LeBron's got his MVP trophy and he's looking at it, and I'm looking across like, "We did it!" Being down 3-1 [in the Finals] was the worst feeling I've ever experienced in my life. I didn't want to talk to my teammates, I didn't want to talk to my wife, I didn't want to talk to my kids. And to come back from that is a lesson that you can come back from anything.

SS: Simone, these two guys broke super-long streaks. You were the favorite all along. What's the pressure like when you have to be the best every time?

SB: I wouldn't necessarily say that. I'm only 19. It's kinda crazy if you're older and putting expectations on a poor 19-year-old. But to me, I go out there, and I do what I trained. We prepare so long for that moment, so it's just kind of exciting.

SS: Is there any feeling of, "I'm 19, I just did the best thing ever. Where do I go from here?"

SB: Sometimes I think of that and I'm like, "Simone, I don't know what else you can do. What more can you do? Maybe you can repeat yourself." I'll take time off, get out more, go outside more, vacation.
SS: What about you, David? How do you react when the best is behind you?

DR: It's rewarding riding into the sunset. What better way to go? My teammates carried me off the field -- it doesn't get any better than that. Now it's time to be a dad. To be as successful at that as I was at baseball would be nice.

SS: What about you, J.R.? Do you have a big goal for 2017?

JRS: Other than repeating, I'm expecting a new baby girl.

SB: You can name her Simone.

JRS: You know, if my other daughter picks it, she'll definitely name her Simone.

SS: Is your daughter a fan of Simone?

JRS: You have no idea. Yesterday she came to our game. I was walking out of the locker room, and she goes, "Daddy, Daddy, I met her! I met Simone!" She loves her.

SS: Something tells me that this cover photo may end up on the wall in your daughter's room. You hanging out with her idol, Simone.

JRS: A hundred percent.

Related Video
Ross, Biles and Smith look back at 2016 success
Ross, Biles and Smith look back at 2016 success
After their ESPN The Magazine cover shoot, Cubs catcher David Ross, Olympic gold medalist gymnast Simone Biles and Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith sit down with Sarah Spain to discuss their success in 2016.

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