It’s a moment that will go down in NBA history as one of the biggest mistakes we’ve ever seen. With the Cavaliers tied in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Warriors, Cleveland had a perfect chance to steal a game on the road. George Hill needed to just make a free throw to give the Cavs a one-point lead. He missed the shot, but J.R. Smith managed to pull down the rebound. Instead of shooting a putback to try and win the game, or even passing the ball, Smith dribbled away from the basket as the Cavs weren’t able to capitalize on the rebound and saw the game go to overtime.
The next day, video emerged of LeBron James sitting on the bench next to Smith asking anyone that will answer if the team had a timeout. They did and James proceeded to die a little inside as the Cavs went on to lose Game 1 before eventually being swept in the series.
The NBA’s changed a lot since that moment. James went to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers. Kevin Durant left the Warriors for Brooklyn and Golden State is licking its wounds as it tries to get through a rash of injuries to multiple key players. Smith, meanwhile, is out of the NBA waiting for a team to call him. He’s still trying to stay in shape, but his career is definitely nearing an end. Recently, Smith went on Showtime’s new podcast “ALL THE SMOKE” with hosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. Smith was asked about the infamous moment and James asking if the team had a timeout. Apparently, no one could even speak to LeBron afterwards.
“Man I tell you it’s like when LeBron asked ‘do we have any timeouts’ and nobody wanted to answer the question. I’m telling him all the way to the bench ‘we got a timeout!’ I said bro! ‘Why aint you just call timeout.’ That’s what we was talking about. He ask, ‘do we got a timeout? DO WE GOT A TIMEOUT?’ and when I tell you some of the players just looked away and the coaching staff look like they turned spooked white as a ghost. I was crying in my room. Crying laughing in my room.”
Smith managed to laugh off the moment that, at the time, was one of the worst of his career. Potentially costing your team a game in the NBA Finals is as bad as it gets, but in retrospect that the entire team couldn’t even look James in the eye is very funny.