J.R. Smith enjoyed a long career in the NBA, winning multiple NBA championships as a part of teams led by LeBron James. During that time, Smith has some iconic moments, much like any player that has played in the league for that long. Unfortunately for him, the moment that is remembered most was a huge blunder on his part.
In the 2018 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers had an excellent opportunity to win the game at the end, but Smith seemingly forgot the score and ended up taking the ball outside with only a few seconds left on the clock instead of putting up a shot. Smith has spoken in the past about how the incident and backlash made him feel, and in a recent interview with Iman Shumpert, he elaborated on what exactly went through his mind at the time.
(starts at 11:03 minutes):
"I had KD (Kevin Durant) right here, and I had somebody on the other side or whatever and the ball came down. So, I, as the ball bounced, I didn't think I had a chance to get the ball. Honestly. So, when I got the ball I'm like, "Oh, shit," but mind you, KD's still standing right here. So, I'm like, 'I'm not about to just go right up on this tall-a** motherf**ker. So, I go. I dribble it out.
"Normally, in every other situation like that for us, what do they do after we get a rebound? Somebody's gonna call a timeout. We got an extra possession. Nobody's gonna call a timeout? So I'm supposed to think to get the rebound, and call a timeout. So, I don't got nobody else out here. It's just me. I'm playing golf now."
The blunder will likely follow Smith throughout the rest of his life, considering the stage at which he committed it. It didn't help that the Cavaliers went on to get swept by the Warriors. While in hindsight, NBA fans should be able to cut him some slack, no explanation will likely ever be enough for some people.