The summer of 2018 was the last time we saw LeBron don a Cavaliers jersey. The Cavs got swamped that year, getting destroyed in 4 games, and then watching their franchise face walk off to Los Angeles.
There are obviously myriads of factors that went into Bron's decision not to return, but none may be more infamous than J.R. Smith's shenanigans.
Surpassing the soup throwing incident, Smith's blunder in Game 1 of the 2018 Finals might have been the final straw for an already frustrated James. For those that may have forgotten, J.R. grabbed an offensive rebound in the closing seconds of Game 1, and dribbled out the clock instead of going up for a shot. He thought he had more time than was actually available, and cost the Cavs a chance to win Game 1. LeBron was livid on the bench, screaming and confused as he waited for extra regulation.
They went on to lose in overtime, and then the next three games of the series.
Following the game, we got a weak excuse from J.R. and the team for the mistake, and we have heard little about the situation since.
In a chat with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on their podcast, the veteran shooting guard finally went a little more in-depth on the situation and his team's thinking at the time. Nobody wanted to face Bron
“So I get the ball, nobody called timeout,” Smith said. “So I’m like, ‘Alright, bet. I’m about to dribble it back out then. Game is about to be over.’
“I look at LeBron, LeBron is pointing like this. I’m like, ‘What the f--k is he pointing at?’”
“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.”
It was a moment that went down in basketball history. LeBron punched the whiteboard following the game, probably raging with frustration, and neither he nor the Cavs have been the same since.
At leats now we can understand what really happened.