J.R. Smith may be public enemy No. 1 in Cleveland right now, but he has endeared himself to every single Golden State Warriors fan.
How quickly things can change. In Game 1, Oracle Arena was booing JR Smith every time he touched the ball for colliding with Klay Thompson’s ankles. But by the end of the game, his most meaningful contribution was dribbling out the ball at the end of regulation because he thought the Cavaliers had the lead. That play, along with a number of different factors, led the Golden State Warriors to steal Game 1 and a series lead.
While everyone may still be suffering from Warriors-Cavaliers fatigue, the high volume of jokes and memes that came thanks to JR Smith ensured that this rivalry will always provide something new.
And by virtue of being the Warriors’ best player in Game 1, the fans thanked Smith by cheering loudly when he was introduced prior to the game:
The jokes didn’t stop there, as we got a “you the real MVP” sign directed at JR Smith, as well as MVP chants when he went to the free throw line:
You have to wonder if that sign was a subtle jab at Kevin Durant from the very vocal #StephBetter subsection of Warriors fans.
One of the big storylines coming into Game 2 of the Finals was how Smith would respond from his blunder. In the lead-up, he spoke about what it was like playing with LeBron James, and had a very eye-opening line when he said “he has an opportunity to play with me as well.”
Smith famously had 22 three-point attempts in one game. After a line like that, you’d have to think he was going to attempt to break it.
With the Warriors fans egging him on with every shot attempt, the Pipe God has all the more reason to let it fly in an attempt to win the game.