By now you’ve seen the clip and the memes and the social-media reaction from baffled NBA players and fans, so there isn’t much sense in rehashing how J.R. Smith dribbled himself into NBA Finals infamy in Game 1 on Thursday night. It was the magnum oop-us of a career full of similar on-court blunders, as Smith has an uncanny knack for losing track of things and wandering into the wilderness.
Here are some of those moments.
That time when Smith “insulted the dignity of the game”
Smith’s Nuggets trailed the Spurs 93-89 late in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series in 2007, so Denver Coach George Karl drew up a play during a timeout that would get the ball into the hands of Allen Iverson or Carmelo Anthony, the team’s top two scorers. But Smith, who had missed every single one of his previous three-point attempts in the series, ended up taking the shot with 25.7 seconds left, and he missed.
“I have no idea what planet that came from,” Karl said the next day.
Smith also heaved up a three-pointer with less than 10 seconds left. It also missed, and the Nuggets took a 96-89 loss.
“And then, of course the one with eight seconds to go, from 50 feet,” Karl said. “I just love the dignity of the game being insulted right in front of me.”
Karl benched Smith for Denver’s season-ending Game 5 loss, telling reporters that “he’s done.”
That time when Smith bought cotton candy during a game
Smith was sitting out a preseason game with the Cavs in October 2015 and, with little else to do on the bench during a meaningless exhibition, he decided to spring for a snack, buying two orders of cotton candy from a stadium vendor.
One of the treats went to Dash Day, the young son of PGA Tour golfer Jason Day, who was sitting near the Cavs’ bench with his family. (Smith is a noted golf nut who has befriended Day during his time in Ohio.)
Smith ate the other cotton candy himself.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” David Blatt, then the Cavs’ coach, said when asked about midgame snack. “You know, I’m going to use one of those lines that you always use when there’s something that happens. The team’s immediate response is: We are gathering further information, and we will respond accordingly. I’m going to lay my hat on that one, if I may.”
That time when Smith aimlessly wandered off the court while the ball was in play
The Cavs were playing the Bucks in November 2016 when Milwaukee reserve Jason Terry got up to say hello to Smith. Thing is, the ball was about to be inbounded, and Tony Snell — the guy Smith was supposed to be guarding — scored an easy bucket.
“Oh, I didn’t even know I was in the game — my bad,” Smith said after the game.
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