J.R. Smith’s gaffe at the end of game 1 of the NBA Finals was historically bad, sending the meme writers into immediate overdrive and leaving fans (and, judging from his reaction on the court, LeBron James) aghast.
What happened? In case you somehow missed it, Smith appeared to have forgotten the score and ran out the clock. Actually, the game was tied, but, robbed of a final chance to score, the Cavaliers then had to square off against the Warriors in overtime, and eventually lost. The moment provoked comedy gold in the form of memes, but, to the players, it’s no laughing matter (and it will be even less of one if the Cavs end up losing the entire series as a result. Time will tell on that one.)
Coach Ty Lue is expressing confidence in J.R. Smith, saying, “Whether he knew time or score or not, getting the rebound and not getting the shot off, it was big because they could’ve gotten the rebound, called time out, and, like I said, won in regulation. And no, I haven’t lost confidence. J.R. can shake off anything, and when everybody tends to count J.R. out, that’s when he comes through.”
Although LeBron looked upset on the court, he’s since come to J.R.’s defense. Both men have made some comments about the game-ending gaffe. First, before we get to those comments, here’s the actual moment in case you haven’t seen it (or want to relive the agony for some reason.)
Now, let’s revisit what J.R. Smith has said about the gaffe, and what LeBron James has said about it. After all, it was LeBron’s exasperated and even angry reaction on the court that sent a lot of meme writers into overdrive.
What J.R. Smith Has Said About His Game 1 Play
What was J.R. Smith’s reaction to what happened at the end of Game 1? At first, he had insisted he knew the score. Now, though, he’s not so sure.
For his part, Smith initially claimed that he knew the game was tied, but later acknowledged, “After thinking it about a lot obviously the last 24 hours or however many since the game was over, I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point.” He initially appeared to have told LeBron that he thought the team was ahead, but now says, according to USA Today, “I might have said that. I’m not sure, but I might’ve.”
Smith handled the infamy with class, saying, according to USA Today, “I told somebody right after the game that I’m glad it happened to me as opposed to anybody else on my team. To be in that situation is tough, and it’s not a situation everybody can handle.”
Initially, Smith said, The New York Times reported: “I was trying to get enough space to bring it out to maybe get a shot off. I looked over at LeBron, and it looked like he was trying to call timeout, so I just stopped” and “No, I knew it was tied,” he said, noting that big Kevin Durant was right by him after the rebound. “I’m pretty sure everybody didn’t think I was going to shoot it over K.D. right there.” The coach said Smith thought the team was ahead by 1, according to The Times.
J.R. Smith has spoken candidly about the pressure he feels playing with LeBron James.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Smith said, according to Yahoo Sports. “Not for myself or my teammates, but just playing on his team. It’s almost… it’s a blessing and — it’s a gift and a curse. You play on his team, and you’re playing with the best player in the world and you get to witness some great historic things and be a part of it.”
“Then, on the other side, if you don’t help that person win, they’re looking at you, too. So it’s a lot of pressure, depending on how you look at it.”
What LeBron James Has Said About Smith’s Play in Game 1
LeBron James said a bit more about J.R. Smith over time, but, initially, the basketball great didn’t want to talk about J.R. Smith’s play in the press conference after Game 1. Instead, he appeared to grow frustrated by reporters’ frequent questioning and eventually ended the press conference and walked out. “Be better tomorrow,” he appeared to say to one reporter.
LeBron James scored 51 points in the game, and the team didn’t win, which had to be annoying.
James described in one interview what was going through his mind at the time. “I knew it was a tie game,” he said. “We were down 1. George Hill went up, he made the first one. We got the offensive rebound, I thought we were all aware of what was going on. That’s my view.”
Asked repeatedly about Smith, he sort of dodged the question.
“I don’t know what J.R. was thinking,” he said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I don’t know his state of mind.” However, he later said a bit more, ultimately expressing confidence in the player.
James said that J.R. Smith took the situation “as hard as anybody” but believes his teammate can bounce back. “He probably took that loss as hard as anybody the other night, LeBron said of Smith on NBATV. “One thing about J.R. is he has an uncanny ability to bounce back.”