May 31,2018 Game 1 NBA finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers have played an outstanding game and are only down by 1 point , late in the game, to this vaunted Golden State team that has been practically handed the Larry O’Brien since the beginning of the season. With 7.2 seconds left in the game LeBron James, who has played a masterful Game, scoring 51 points, had the ball at the top of the key. George Hill popped open after beating Klay Thompson back door. LeBron with his amazing court vision whipped a pass to Hill; Thompson, realizing he was beat, did the only thing he could, fouled Hill, preventing the layup and sending him to the foul line.
George Hill stepped to the line looking like he’d rather be facing a firing squad than those two free throws. He managed to connect the first one but the sphincteral contractions were so great that Hill could not extend his shooting arm on the second free throw, causing it to fall short. J.R. Smith gets the rebound by out working Kevin Durant, but dribbles it back out instead of putting up a shot, costing the Cavaliers the game and giving rise to yet another famous meme. This was the lead-in on every sports show across the country the next morning, be it radio, television and print; since then it has become the accepted standard operating procedure to blame Smith and this is the universally diseminated narrative, but is it the truth?
Looking at those events with an objective eye calls this into question.
As was previously referenced, J.R. Smith made a play to secure the offensive rebound off the missed free throw and then as we all know, inexplicably dribbled the basketball all the way out to the three-point line as if it was a game of 21, causing LeBron, Shannon Sharpe and Nick Wright to each blow their respective gaskets.
Because of what happened, or didn’t happen in that 4.4 seconds, J.R. Smith has, wrongly, had this loss hung on his head. To be accurate, J.R. Smith did not lose the Cleveland Cavaliers Game 1 of the 2018 NBA finals; what he did do, however, was cost the Cavs a chance to win in regulation.
If you will recall, when he committed his blunder the game was tied, meaning the Cavaliers still had an opportunity to claim victory – in overtime.
In the extra frame , the Cavaliers fed of the energy, or the lack thereof, of their leader Lebron James I who mentally checked out of the contest after the Smith miscue, and came out flat and discombobulated.
One aspect of , and a true contributing factor to Cleveland losing that game was LeBron quitting on his team. the conventional retort this would be “how could someone who dropped 51 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists possibly be accused of quitting?”
Refer back to the image above this paragraph; although he is somewhat obscured, Tyronn Lue is coaching his team ; the players look engaged, with one glaring exception- Lebron James. It is justifiable that James would be upset, however to conduct in behaviour that is tantamount to throwing a temper tantrum is unbecoming of a player who has been touted as this tremendous leader. During trying moments, great leaders of men galvanise those under their direction; they detach themselves from the group. Rather than telling his team that,even with what happened they still had the supposed all-powerful Golden State Warriors on the ropes and the opportunity to steal game 1 was still there to be claimed, he sat on the bench and sulked. James carried that sentiment on to the court in the extra frame, missing all four of his field goal attempts and appearing largely disinterested.
Golden State, took advantage, outscoring Cleveland 17-7 and going on to win 124-114, and the “blame JR” train has been full steam ahead from that day to this. Regrettably it has again exposed the sports media not letting facts get in the way of the lazy and inaccurate dissemination of a false narrative and also many of the sports fan for parroting this drivel and not engaging in independent, critical thought.