CLEVELAND -- A video that went viral on social media Monday showed previously unseen footage of the Cleveland Cavaliers' bench at the end of regulation from Game 1 and LeBron James' emotional letdown upon learning from coach Ty Lue that the team had an unused timeout that could've been used when JR Smith lost track of the score.
Reluctant to take himself back to the moment at first, James described his thoughts and emotions during the huddle on Tuesday.
"I was sitting on the bench and kind of just contemplating the last couple seconds of what just happened, what expired, from JR dribbling the ball out to [George Hill] missing the free throw, actually seeing Draymond [Green] step in early on the lane violation," James said. "So there were a lot of things playing through my head."
The Cavaliers were on the bench after Hill missed the second of two free throws with the game tied at 107. With 4.5 seconds left, Smith snared the offensive rebound but dribbled out to midcourt, seeming to run out the clock. James gestured wildly at him, but time expired without the Cavs getting off a decent shot.
During the ensuing huddle, James didn't interact with teammates and didn't respond when several tried to engage him, including Jeff Green. When Lue came into the huddle to discuss strategy for overtime, James asked whether the team had a timeout left and appeared to be devastated when Lue confirmed that one was available.
James said he hesitated on calling a timeout when Smith was dribbling away from the basket because he wasn't sure the Cavs had one and it could've led to a technical foul.
"I actually tried to call timeout. ... I don't know if I had enough time because I was kind of a little bit still in shock of what was going on at that point in time," James said. "I got to the bench, first thing that came to my mind I was like, 'OK, I was calling a timeout.' But hopefully, I'm glad maybe if we didn't have any, I'm glad they didn't give it to me. I didn't want another C-Webb [Chris Webber] incident. If that happened, then they go to make their free throws and the game is over."
Playing for Michigan against North Carolina in the 1993 NCAA championship game, Webber called a timeout when the Wolverines didn't have one, drawing a technical foul. The Wolverines went on to lose the game.
Lue said the Cavaliers were made aware that there was a timeout left and they specifically didn't use it before the final possession because they didn't want to allow the Warriors to sub Stephen Curry out the of the game so they could take advantage of the matchup.
"End of the game, we all knew we had a timeout left," Lue said. "So no problem with the communication."
Said James: "I asked our coaching staff if we had a timeout [in the huddle]. And they told me, yes. I guess y'all probably seen the reaction from that point on."
In the aftermath, James was criticized for not being more vocal and taking on a leadership role in the huddle. The Warriors scored the first seven points of overtime and ended up winning by 10.
"I don't care. I don't care at all [about the criticism]," James said. "We're in the NBA Finals. I mean, how much more picking up of teammates do you want me to do?"