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LeBron James was utterly brilliant for most of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, almost single-handedly leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a win against the heavily favored Golden State Warriors.
But despite the fact that James scored 51 points and had his team tied with Golden State as the game neared its end, he couldn’t stop teammate J.R. Smith from committing a bone-headed mistake that kept the Cavaliers from potentially winning the game and sending the contest to overtime where the Warriors eventually won.
And James’ utter agony at Smith’s blunder has become a meme in the hours after the game ended.
First, here’s what happened, leading to James’ gesture of unbelievable frustration.
The play that decided Game 1. pic.twitter.com/e1UeOv57Rn— ESPN (@espn) June 1, 2018
Smith apparently thought the Cavaliers were ahead by one point when he grabbed possession of the ball after a missed free throw by Cleveland. That’s why he dribbled the ball away from the basket so he could allow precious seconds to waste away. But in reality, Cleveland and Golden State were tied, and instead of draining the clock in preparation for a Cavaliers victory, Smith was wasting the time it could have taken Cleveland to attempt another shot and to take the lead for real.
And James couldn’t have been more livid, throwing his arms out in pure disgust as his face conveyed the words, “What in the HELL are you doing?” Well, we know what the internet was doing in the minutes after. They were memeing and dunking all over James’ disbelief.
Pop culture references, call-backs to other big missed opportunities in sports, and a strong Toy Story reference. It was the perfect time for some nearly perfect memes.
"This meeting could have been done in one email!" pic.twitter.com/GhkZufTaTT— Jay Rigdon (@jayrigdon5) June 1, 2018
When you leave all the doors open but your dog poops in the house anyway pic.twitter.com/LY8u7CqQzJ— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 1, 2018
YOU. ARE. A. TOY!— Richard Lee-Sam (@RLeesam) June 1, 2018
YOU AREN'T THE REAL BUZZ LIGHTYEAR, YOU'RE AN ACTION FIGURE. YOU ARE A CHILD'S PLAYTHING! pic.twitter.com/1ttgVPqK2X
When the Chopped contestant goes to the ice cream machine pic.twitter.com/pVVJRoHoEb— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) June 1, 2018
when I go to a restaurant but fill up on bread pic.twitter.com/aPykmi4h82— actioncookbook (@actioncookbook) June 1, 2018
This is how I look when I’m trying to get my wife to understand what I’m saying pic.twitter.com/DOpwd4ly0f— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) June 1, 2018
"WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST USE A PHOENIX DOWN ON HER" pic.twitter.com/T8z0YhyAOM— 311 days ago Trump promised 24-hr Hezbollah answer (@MattNegrin) June 1, 2018
"THAT'S how Han Solo got his name?" pic.twitter.com/qqUc9lrjAN— Sean Keeley (@SeanKeeleyIsMe) June 1, 2018
“ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS HAND THE BALL TO MARSHAWN LYNCH” pic.twitter.com/Q2QiFOboNx— Jackie Bamberger (@jackie_bam) June 1, 2018
LMFAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. pic.twitter.com/muN1yq9URG— Deli papi supremo (@DrabuIeNextDoor) June 1, 2018
Instant replay of JR Smith and LeBron in the closing seconds of regulation. pic.twitter.com/8qYCv7mBQf— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) June 1, 2018
After the game, James walked out of the press conference after he was questioned about Smith’s actions. “Be better tomorrow,” James told reporters after he got fed up and left the podium.
Perhaps it’d be wise if James told Smith the same thing.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.