By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals had it all. LeBron James going off for 40-plus and a triple-double. Marcus Smart diving all over tarnation. Hard fouls. Everything you could ever want in playoff basketball!
But there was also something that you might not expect, and it came from the fans.
It took place after Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith gave a two-hand shove to the back of Al Horford when the Celtics’ big man was in the air. It was, without question, a dirty play, one which prompted Celtics guard Marcus Smart to rush over and let Smith know that such moves would not be appreciated. The officials prevented anything from getting too out of hand before sending both teams to their respective benches as the play was reviewed to determine if it should be a flagrant foul.
It was then that the 18,000 fans in attendance may have made history when they unleashed an R-rated chant at Smith. It was, simply, “[Bleep] you, J.R.”
It came through loud and clear on the television broadcast, forcing the ESPN crew of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy Mark Jackson to acknowledge what was being transmitted to millions watching around the country. Granted, the audio was clear to begin with, but the acknowledgment of the broadcast crew removed all doubt.
You can watch the clip here, so long as you’re not offended by expletives uttered by thousands of people at the same time.
Smith appeared to be slightly amused by the chant when it took place. Some Celtics could be seen flashing smiles on their side of the court, but not Smart. He looked quite miffed as the officials watched replays before ultimately determining that Smith would be assessed a Flagrant 1.
The 32-year-old Smith is a 14-year NBA veteran, so he was unfazed by the whole ordeal.
“I love it. I don’t want the opposing fans to like me. That’s not why I’m here,” Smith said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “They can chant and scream all they want, it actually makes me feel better about myself. They know me.”
Even after the game, which the Celtics won 107-94, Smart remained less amused by the whole ordeal.
“That’s a dirty shot,” Smart said. “That’s not the first time J.R. has done some dirty stuff, especially playing against us. He’s known for it, especially playing against us. We know that. So you know, it’s like a bully, you keep letting a bully keep picking on you, he’s going to pick on you until you finally stand up, and that’s what I tried to do. One of my guys was down, and I took offense to it.”
Smart’s not wrong about the history. Smith once pulled a more subtle yet equally dangerous bump of Goran Dragic, one that left Dragic in serious pain. In the 2015 playoffs, Smith tried to get away with a punch to the face of Celtics forward Jae Crowder. As the Garden crowd showed on Tuesday night, people don’t forget.
Game 3 will be played Saturday night in Cleveland. We’ll see if Cavaliers fans have anything up their sleeves for Smart or any other Celtics.