Game 1 of the NBA Finals wasn't the first time J.R. Smith forgot the score of game

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

The J.R. Smiths who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

That was the lesson of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, when J.R. Smith’s colossal mistake cost the Cleveland Cavaliers a chance at winning the game in regulation and eventually led to the Golden State Warriors rolling in overtime.

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May 31, 2018: Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith forgets the score

After pulling in an offensive rebound in a game tied at 107-107 with four seconds left, Smith opted to dribble out the clock rather than take a shot or make a pass. Once Smith reached halfcourt with the ball, he only had LeBron James looking at him in disbelief. Though he wouldn’t admit if after the game, Smith clearly (and according to his coach) lost track of the game’s score and believed the Cavs were ahead. It was a mistake that will enter the pantheon of sports’ most boneheaded plays.

And it’s happened all before, though with much lower stakes.

J.R. Smith and the score of basketball games apparently have an adversarial relationship. (AP Photo)
J.R. Smith and the score of basketball games apparently have an adversarial relationship. (AP Photo)

Jan. 3, 2014: Knicks’ J.R. Smith forgets the score

Rewind back to when J.R. Smith was playing for the New York Knicks and still very much J.R. Smith. The Knicks were tied 100-100 with the Rockets when the ball made its way to Smith with 21 seconds remaining and no defenders nearby. Smith had a wide-open look at the top of the perimeter, but he also had 22 seconds left on the shot clock and a chance to make sure the Knicks took the last shot of the game.

Smith, naturally, went for the 3-pointer. The shot missed and was rebounded by the Rockets’ Aaron Brooks, who was immediately fouled while going for the ball.

The Knicks would go on to lose 102-100 when Brooks made his two free throws. The blame fell squarely on Smith, who admitted after the game that he believed the Knicks were down two. He even had Tyson Chandler to act in the LeBron role of the incredulous teammate. From the New York Post:

“Honestly, I thought we were down two when I shot the ball,’’ Smith said then. “I started hearing Tyson [Chandler] say, ‘Noooo, don’t take the shot.’ Just a good shot, bad timing. I realized right after. Bad basketball IQ by me.”

It appears the basketball IQ didn’t get much better over the years. Though to be fair to Smith, he might have only overcorrected, going from taking an ill-advised shot with the Knicks to ill-advisedly holding onto the ball for the Cavs. Hopefully, someday, he’ll find that balance.

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