Game 1 of the NBA Finals wasn’t kind to Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith – he finished with a game-worst negative-22 in plus/minus and his mishap cost his team a chance to beat the heavily favored Golden State Warriors on Thursday.
Smith snatched a rebound away from Warriors’ forward Kevin Durant after a missed free throw from teammate George Hill with the score tied 107-107, but failed to shoot with 4.7 seconds left in regulation.
Some thought it appeared to be a lapse in score keeping on his part. Smith told media that he thought the Cavs were going to take a timeout, but he backtracked on Saturday, saying, "After thinking about it ... I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point."
The Cavaliers lost 124-114 in overtime and Smith’s mistake earned himself a spot among some of the worst on-the-court basketball blunders by a player in the history of the game, but was it enough to crack this top-five list?
DeAndre Jordan (2015)
The Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers were tied 87-87 with 2.8 seconds remaining in regulation and a shot clock that read 1.7 when center DeAndre Jordan made one of the biggest mishaps of 2015.
Then-Clippers guard Chris Paul missed his attempt to take the lead as the shot clock went off and Jordan rebounded with 0.7 seconds remaining, but he simply held onto it thinking the shot clock was the final buzzer.
The Clippers went on to lose 98-93 against the Trail Blazers in overtime while legend has it that Jordan is still holding onto that ball until this day.
Derek Harper (1984)
Continuing the trend of end-of-regulation mistakes that preceded overtime losses is Derek Harper of the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
With six seconds left in a tied game after a miss by Lakers’ center Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Harper took the ball near halfcourt and dribbled until the clock read zero.
The Mavericks lost 122-115 in overtime and ultimately fell in the series against the Lakers in five games.
Chris Webber (1993)
The blunders aren’t only limited to the NBA, as Chris Webber proved during his time with the “Fab Five” at the University of Michigan.
Weber and the Wolverines were called for a technical foul after he signaled for a timeout against North Carolina when the team didn’t have any left to burn in the 1993 NCAA championship game.
Weber was whistled after he was trapped in the corner by two Tar Heels with 11 seconds remaining in regulation and down by two. North Carolina won 77-71 and the Wolverines lost their second straight national championship game.
Michael Ruffin (2007)
The Washington Wizards held a three-point advantage over the Toronto Raptors with three seconds remaining in a 2007 regular-season game and the ball in their hands – the only issue was it was being held by Michael Ruffin.
Ruffin caught a pass intended for a Toronto player and threw the ball in the air to milk the clock, but its airtime was pitiful and the Raptors’ Morris Peterson recovered it and swished a 3-pointer.
As what has grown to be expected with this list of basketball blunders, the Wizards then lost in overtime in front of a stunned Washington crowd.
Magic Johnson (1984)
If it’s any consolation to Smith, Hall of Famers have made mishaps similar to his own in the NBA Finals.
Magic Johnson ran out the clock during Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and his Los Angeles Lakers. The game was tied with 13 seconds left, but Johnson dribbled camly and passed the ball to a teammate as time expired.
The Lakers lost in overtime 124-121 and fell to the Celtics in the seven-game series.