OAKLAND — “It could have been any of us.”
While on Twitter other NBA players were aghast at J.R. Smith‘s epic mistake — getting the offensive rebound on a missed free throw of a tie game with 4.7 seconds left, then dribbling out the clock rather than taking a potential game-winning shot — the players who were on the court in Game 1 expressed more sympathy than anything for Smith. At least publicly.
“Anything can happen on the basketball court, you know?” Kevin Durant said. “We’ve all done stuff like that on the basketball court. You know, I can’t talk about a guy like… I can’t talk about a situation that way because I do some dumb stuff on the court. So I can’t really talk about that.
“I really feel like nobody’s immune to mistakes,” Kevin Love said. “J.R.’s thing — he could have gotten up and made a play, but mistakes happen.”
LeBron James was not going to throw a teammate under the bus, and in the theater of the absurd that is NBA postgame press conferences it led to him walking out (I’d say “storming out” but can you really storm out of any place wearing a suit with shorts?).
A clearly dejected Tyronn Lue was diplomatic after the game.
“I mean, who knows if JR would have made the lay-up anyway, so it was tough,” Lue said. “You know, he had a little — he could have had a little floor, somebody was there. Then you think about calling the time out. But LeBron was open for a second, and it just happened too fast.”
The one guy who was at all critical was Draymond Green, and he had a theory more than just calling Smith out.
“I guess that further goes along with my theory, I thought he was looking for LeBron.” Green said. “I would have looked for LeBron too. I guess.”
Although earlier, Green also said this.
“I think when he got the rebound, he probably could have laid it up. But nonetheless, that’s a part of the game, being locked in. I mean, you got to know the score. That’s just kind of basketball. You got to know if you’re winning or losing or tied. Like I said, we’ll take it. Sometimes it’s good to be a little lucky.”
Players not in the arena, not on the court, were much harsher.