In what can only be described as one of the great confessions in sports history, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith admitted Saturday he didn’t know what the score was when he got a rebound and dribbled out the final few seconds of regulation in Cleveland’s overtime loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
“After thinking about it a lot after the last 24 hours and however long it’s been since the game was over, I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point,” Smith said.
Smith previously had insisted he knew what the score was, and was dribbling around expecting Cleveland to call timeout, explaining that if he’d thought Cleveland was ahead, he would have just grabbed the rebound and waited for Golden State to foul.
Saturday’s revelation puts that theory to bed.
Smith was asked if he remembered telling an irate LeBron James, “I thought we were ahead,” after the clock expired, as it appeared he said in a camera angle captured by the ABC broadcast of the game.
“I might have said that,” Smith said. “I’m not for sure, but I might have.”
And so there you have it, one of the all-time sports blunders. It didn’t come off like a choke job on quite the same level the Chris Webber Timeout, but it is easier to understand how a college kid might forget how many timeouts are left than it is to understand how a 16-year NBA veteran could not know if his team was ahead, behind or tied on the last possession of an NBA Finals game.
It is nearly incomprehensible, and yet the explanation more or less boils down to “J.R. gonna J.R.”
“That’s pretty much who I’ve been my whole life. I’ve always been the one guy who is the butt of the jokes or the one guy who does something crazy and everybody has got to look at or whatever the case may be. And then I just come back and be myself and play the next day,” Smith said. “I don’t really dwell on things too much. I’ve been like that my whole life, and that’s what it looks like it’s going to continue to be. So I just got to go out there and be me. 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 that everybody can handle. So I’m glad it happened to me.”
You know what? He’s probably right. He’s going to be fine.