When the Cavs acquired J.R. Smith in a mid-year trade back in 2015, not every Cavs fan applauded the move. While Smith had proven he was a talent on the court, he had the reputation of being a headache off of it. His antics included a suspension for untying opponents shoes while standing on the lane awaiting a free throw attempt. Smith certainly had his quirky moments in Cleveland, but his five years with the Cavs, which officially came to an end when he was released Monday, were memorable---mostly for good the good moments.
That's probably not the case nationally, as Smith is frequently mocked for his brain lock moment in the final seconds of regulation in game one of the 2018 NBA Finals between the Cavs and Golden State. That's when Smith snared an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, but proceeded to dribble out the clock in a game that was tied. The Warriors would go on to win in overtime, on their way to a series sweep. The meme of LeBron James reaction to Smith's gaffe has become rather famous on social media.
But while fans across the country choose to remember that, most Cleveland fans will look back on Smith's era with fondness. Even with the return of LeBron James, the Cavs were struggling in 2015, until Smith and big man Timofey Mozogov were acquired. A banged up Cavs team that had all stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the shelf with injuries, managed to make it to the NBA Finals, losing to the Warriors in six games. Then came 2016, when the Cavs won the title, becoming the first and only team in history to rally from a 3-1 series deficit. Smith had several brilliant moments in the series and came up big in the third quarter of game seven when he nailed three 3-pointers, getting the Cavs back into a game that they trailed at the half. After the win, his emotional press conference, on Father's Day, tearfully thanking his Dad and his mom for standing by him was something Cleveland fans will never forget. Nor will they ever forget how euphoric Smith was at the championship parade and the days and weeks that followed when J.R. rarely wore a shirt. Beyond that, Smith embraced Cleveland, showing up at Indians and Browns games and becoming a part of the Northeast Ohio community. So while the national media and NBA fans across the country will continue to use J.R. Smith as a punchline, Cavs fans and the city of Cleveland will revere him for role in 2016 and his part of a remarkable 4-year run of teams that made it to the NBA Finals. You can check out some of those J.R. Smith memorable moments below.