USA Today Images

J.R. Smith Goes J.R. Smith

That was a “where were you when” moment.

June 01, 2018 - 11:22 am

When Bob Myers was on the show earlier this week, he said essentially that in our lives, there are only a limited number of moments we’ll truly remember when it’s all said and done. Hopefully we’ll all live long lives, but there will be a few moments that will stick out, like a wedding, or the birth of a child. Or J. R. Smith’s rebound at the end of regulation of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

You think I’m joking? I am joking. That was a “where were you when” moment. Because there are only a few of those moments in life, too. Maybe you’re old enough to remember when we landed on the moon. Well, last night was another moon landing. 

Because last night, J. R. Smith somehow knocked J. R. Smith out of the number one spot on the “most ridiculous moment in the NBA this year.” Somehow, throwing a bowl of soup at a coach is no longer the most J. R. Smith thing that J. R. Smith has done this season. 

Because last night, this happened. Now, before I play it. Let me set the stage. George Hill has just hit the first free throw. What does that mean? It means the score is tied. That is an important detail. A very important detail. Roll it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that play already and yet, I’m still stunned every time. That is literally the first time in history that J. R. Smith did not shoot the ball when his teammates wanted him to. The man who’s never met a shot he didn’t like, didn’t take that one. 

And the thing is, Smith made an incredible play to get that rebound. He did everything right.  Beat Kevin Durant to a board he had no business getting.  Durant could have been the guy being crucified right now for blowing the box out on J.R.  Hell, George Hill, missing that throw could be one catching all the heat. How the hell do you miss that throw in that situation?! Esp. after making the first. J. R., on the other hand, did everything right. Well, everything except for remembering the score and situation. 

It’s not often in life that you see a meme happen before your eyes, but it did. LeBron’s reaction to J. R., with his arms out, yelling, went viral in an instant. And it was amazing.

Almost as amazing as the reactions from J.R.’s fellow professional basketball players on twitter.

Clipper Patrick Beverley: R u kidding me!!!!! #Dumbo

WNBA star Sky Diggins-Smith: What????

But nobody topped my man, Joel Embiid: Jr is on that henny lol

Jo is the greatest. That is all. An NBA superstar blasting off in-game tweets like that? And accusing one of his peers of being on the henny is absolutely. Unreal.

Almost as unreal as what J. R. did. Except it’s not the first time something like this has happened in his career. I give you this tweet from the legend, Frank Isola, back in January of 2014, when J. R. was still a Knick.

J.R. Smith says he thought the Knicks were down 2 when he took the ill-advised three. "That's bad basketball IQ on me," he said.

That was bad basketball IQ on you, Swish But this was next level. This was galaxy brain compared to that. It’s one thing to do it with the Knicks in January, it’s quite another to do it in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. And to effectively cost your team an incredible shot at winning in the process. 

And he knew it as soon as it was over. On the replay, if you read his lips, he’s saying to LeBron, "I thought we were ahead.” Of course. He thought they were ahead and he played like it in the moment. He didn’t tell us. The fact that he did go for the put back, or call time out or get it to LeBron, ensures what we all already knew: that he thought they were winning. Not tied. 

But that wasn’t the case later on, when Smith reversed course, insisted he knew it was tied and had entire situation under control:

"No, I knew we were tied. It's just, I thought we were going to take a timeout because I got the rebound. I'm pretty sure everybody didn't think I was going to shoot it over KD right there. ... I mean, I saw KD standing right next to me. He already had, what, four blocks? So I wasn't trying to be the fifth."

He also said: "It was a tie ballgame and we had a timeout. I tried to get enough space because, obviously, KD [Kevin Durant] was standing right there. I tried to get enough space to bring it out to maybe get a shot off. And then I looked over at Bron [LeBron James], and he looked like he was trying to call a timeout. So I stopped. And then the game was over." 

And for all you fools who think that he thought they were ahead, J. R. has some info for you: "If I thought we were ahead, then I would have just held onto the ball and let them foul me. So, clearly that wasn't the case."

Clearly. Hello? Are any of you even paying attention. That guy is locked in. He knows what’s up. 

Or doesn’t know it at all and admitted as much during the game and then changed his story after the game.

And as you can imagine, Ty Lue and LeBron were cool; about it after the game. So was Kevin Durant: "We've all done stuff like that on the basketball court. I can't talk about a situation that way because I've done some dumb stuff... I don't know what was going through J.R.'s head but he made a great rebound."

I don’t know that we have all done stuff like that, just J.R. and Chris Webber, who course twitter dragged into it, but I respect KD for not killing J. R.. 

Steph Curry was confused: "We kind of didn't know what was going on at the time."

Draymond Green, on the other hand, wasn’t confused at all.  Nor was he  looking to let anyone off the hook. Come for his remarks and get to a TV for his facial reactions.

What was he thinking? What was he doing? What was going through his head? All of these questions are unanswerable. Actually, all these questions have just one answer: J. R. Smith. I’m just glad dude is on a team that matters, that is on the big stage, so when J.R. does go J.R. and he did and probably will again this week, we were all there to see it. And will all always remember where we were when it happened. Even if J.R. thinks it didn’t.