Cleveland Cavaliers

J.R. Smith is glad his mistake 'happened to me as opposed to anybody else'

#LeBron James

J.R. Smith's mental lapse late in Game 1 is already being compared to some of the all-time boneheaded plays in championship events. That may be premature - if the Cavaliers go on to win the series, his gaffe will probably be forgotten.

If they lose by one game, however, it will probably be remembered for decades to come.

And that seems to be just fine with Smith, who told reporters Saturday he can handle the ridicule. In fact, he welcomes it.

"I told somebody after the game I'm glad it happened to me as opposed to anybody else," Smith said . "To be in that situation is tough, and it's not a situation everybody can handle, so I'm glad it happened to me."

He says it's not the first time he's been singled out for something bad.

"That's pretty much who I've been my whole life," Smith said. "I've always been the one guy who's the butt of the jokes or the one guy that does something crazy that everybody has to look at. And then I just come back and be myself the next day."

By now, even casual sports fans know the Cavaliers guard tried to dribble out the clock at the end of regulation in Game 1, thinking the Cavs were ahead instead of tied. Afterward, he denied he'd thought the score was tied, even though Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said that's what Smith told him.

A frustrated LeBron James, who talked with Smith on the court immediately after the incident, has refused to comment on the issue. He even walked out of a post-game media conference when a reporter pressed him on what Smith said.

Smith initially said he was dribbling around waiting for a timeout. Saturday, the veteran told reporters he's a little hazy on exactly what he thought.

"After thinking about it a lot the last 24 hours and however many minutes since the game was over, I can't say I was sure of anything at that point," Smith said.

He concedes he might have told James on the court that he thought the Cavs were ahead.

"I might have said that," Smith said. "I'm not sure, but I might have."

Either way, James is confidence Smith will put the incident behind him.

"J.R.'s one of the most resilient guys I've ever been around," James said Saturday. "He took that loss as hard as anybody the other night, just [as hard] as anybody on the team. But one thing about J.R., he has an uncanny ability to bounce back, and I think people have seen that throughout our postseason runs."

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