Stephen A. Smith and J.R. Smith Trade Barbs in Twitter Beef Over NBA Finals Game 1 Gaffe

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith and Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith traded a series of zingers on social media Tuesday night, with the latter claiming the TV pundit is “obsessed” with him.

Smith set the ball rolling when he claimed the Cavs guard would never live down his infamous gaffe in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, which cost the Cavs the chance to open the series with an unexpected win on the road against the Golden State Warriors.

“He will not [live the mistake down] and I don’t say that with any joy, I actually like J.R.” Smith said in a clip posted on his Twitter account.

“It’s not just the mistake that he made. It’s the visible reaction from LeBron [James] that you will always hold onto.”

Trailing 106-107 with 4.7 seconds left, the Cavs had the chance to win the game, as George Hill went to the free throw line after being fouled by Klay Thompson. Hill scored the first of his two attempts but missed the second, only for Smith to secure what appeared to be a crucial offensive rebound.

Inexplicably, however, instead of firing up a shot that could have granted the Cavs an unlikely win, Smith dribbled towards the perimeter. When he realized the mistake, he frantically dished the ball out to Hill, for a three-pointer that missed the target and might not have counted anyway.

The picture of LeBron looking absolutely exasperated with Smith in the aftermath of the mistake immediately went viral, as the Cavs lost in overtime and were subsequently swept by the Warriors.

Aside from allowing Golden State to take control of the series, Smith suggested the mistake could have a lasting impact over LeBron’s career.

GettyImages-964676792 (1) LeBron James #23 and JR Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers react as time expries in regulation against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on May 31 in Oakland, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

“Does anybody realize and take a moment to really recognize the fact that until  LeBron James wins a championship again, that will be the defining moment until LeBron wins a championship again?” he added.

“Every time we talk about LeBron, LeBron and we don’t mention a recent championship, we’re gonna point to the last shot he had and the last shot he had was that visual right there. That expression for J.R.’s faux pas and I think that you can’t escape.”

The Cavs’ guard wasn’t particularly pleased with the ESPN analyst’s tirade and fired back with a not-so-cryptic tweet.

“He’s obviously obsessed with talking about me [and] I don’t know why,” he said.

The First Take analyst then suggested his words were not intended as a barb at Smith, but insisted the mistake will be forever associated with the 18th overall pick of the 2014 draft.

“Just pointing out that no matter what you’ve done, that’s what most people are gonna remember, which is fact,” he said.

The Cavs guard, however, fired back immediately.

“Wrong that’s what you will remember me for not the people especially Cleveland fans! I understand it has to be a Joker to every Batman but this ain’t that! Move along,” he replied.

In fairness to Smith, he was an integral cog in the Cavs’ team that brought a first NBA title to Cleveland in 2016 and the Warriors might have won this year’s finals anyway. At the same time, however, it is difficult to imagine the incident will simply be forgotten.

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