Blogging from behind today, since I spent the morning trying to imagine the things that go through JR Smith's head.
The ridiculous thing about last night's insane game one of the NBA Finals was that LeBron James, often playing one-on-five, authored one of the most brilliant Finals performances in history by putting up a 51/8/8 line while staving off by himself multiple Golden State runs, and ultimately, putting his Cavaliers team in a position to win on the road, is maybe the third or fourth most interesting/memorable thing about it.
The attention, unfortunately for LeBron and Cavs fans, was stolen mainly by JR Smith, who has a well-earned reputation as being, um, flaky, and who forgot what the score was when he grabbed the rebound off of a missed George Hill free throw with 4.5 seconds and, instead of putting up a shot, ran out the clock while his incredulous teammates looked on.
JR Smith has his basketball attributes, I suppose. At times, he can be a deadly shooter (Cleveland might not win game four against Boston without him), but his bucket-making ability is often overshadowed by, well, being a knucklehead.
And when you carry knuckleheads on your team, their knuckle-headed-ness will almost always come back to haunt you.
Let's revisit the 2015 Bengals/Steelers playoff game. Some have compared JR Smith's gaffe to Jeremy Hill's fumble, which isn't really fair. Hill's fumble was a physical mistake, and unfortunately for us as Bengals fans, one that's as much a part of football as anything. Smith was guilty of a brainfart, one that's got to be more hard to live with as a fan than a physical failing like George Hill's missed free throw.
As I watched JR Smith last night, I thought back to other central figures of that meltdown at Paul Brown Stadium, mainly Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones. Burfict's football acumen and ability were on display that night - he was marvelous up until the final minute - but so were the things you fear when you carry a player like Vontaze. He's going to do something dumb, possibly at the worst possible moment. Same with Adam Jones, a guy who was a major reason why the Bengals won 12 games that season, but a reckless person whose recklessness helped doom his team that night.
You keep guys like that around, and you deserve what they will almost always do to your team. The Bengals got what they deserved that January night two and a half years ago. So did the Cavs. At least the ones not named "LeBron."
Here's some stuff...
The block/charge call that was originally ruled a charge on Kevin Durant and ultimately overturned and ruled to be a blocking foul on LeBron James ended with the correct result: it was a foul on LeBron.
But the way the officials arrived at that result was very unsatisfying. A judgement call was review-able, which opens up so many cans of worms in a sport filled with judgement calls.
I in the minority, but I'm no longer as alone as I was....I'd be okay if replay went away. It won't, of course, for a myriad of reasons that I don't have time to get to today, but as often as a look at replay leaves us feeling unfulfilled or confused, I feel more and more strongly that we'd all be better if we just lived with what humans decided in the heat of the moment.
Once more: If you're watching LeBron James solely through the lens of how he compares to Michael Jordan, then you're doing it wrong.
I had a conversation with someone in the know with whom I trust about Jesse Winker. The suggestion from this person was the Winker's defensive issues have raised the ire of his manager and team brass because he might not be working on it as hard as he should be.
I don't know if that is or isn't the case, but if it is, why not send him to the minors with the firm instructions that to get back to the big leagues, his defense absolutely must improve instead of having him not get regular reps while he sits on the bench?
I don't have time for other stuff today. Radio show prep awaits. I will share with you this, because as bobbleheads go, this is cool.
Radio Show: Replay use, a lame LeBron/Joey Votto comparison, and your anger at my JR Smith/Vontaze comparison. Plus, we'll make James spell some spelling bee words. Join us at 3:05 on ESPN1530.