Define Clutch? The Lebron James Story

6/4/12 in NBA   |   aaronjchung   |   264 respect

Blog Photo - Define Clutch?  The Lebron James Story
There is no other player in the NBA more scrutinized that LeBron James.  Perhaps it’s because we all see the amount of talent that he has, but demand more than any human being is capable of; or perhaps it’s because we like to see people fail as much as we like to see people succeed.  One thing’s for sure, no other superstar in the NBA is under the same microscope as LeBron James.  
That’s why Monday morning’s chatter will once again be regarding James’ clutch factor or coward factor in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Down by 3 points with just 37 seconds left in the 4th quarter, LeBron nailed a three pointer to force the game into overtime, which by all accounts was a clutch shot.
However, LeBron also had the opportunity to win the game in regulation, but passed the ball to Udonis Haslem instead, for a fadeaway 15-footer that barely grazed the rim.
From a basketball perspective, it was probably the right play to make.  LeBron dribbled right into a triple team and had no choice but to give up the ball.  Furthermore, Haslem has always been a reliable midrange jump shooter. 

Having said that, you get the feeling that Kobe Bryant would’ve somehow risen above the triple team and taken the final shot on his own terms.  When it comes to Kobe, he’s a lot like Michael Jordan, his team either wins with him or loses with him. 
After the end of the Jordan era, some experts believe that the superstar of a team should always take the final shot regardless of the situation they’re in.  There is a “clutch gene” that superstars supposedly have that roles players do not.  Superstars live for the moment and role players shrink at the moment. 

But there are other experts who believe that if a role player is wide open for a shot, they have to take it.  It’s the right play to make, the higher percentage shot, even under high-pressure situations.   This is what makes LeBron such a polarizing figure.  He has the talent of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but the Magic Johnson in him tells him to pass the ball.
When regulation had finally ended and the game was sent into overtime, LeBron failed to take advantage of Marquis Daniels, after Paul Pierce had fouled out of the game.  Instead, two minutes and thirty seconds later, LeBron found himself on the bench with six fouls of his own.  As a result, Miami only put up two points in overtime, two less than the Boston Celtics. 
While the outcome of regular season games is sometimes decided before the 4th quarter even begins, every game in the playoffs comes down to the wire.  If LeBron James is ever going to win the Championship, he has to do whatever it takes to will his team to a victory, be it passing the ball or shooting the ball.  Because if you’re as great as LeBron James is, the team either wins with you or loses with you.
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6/7/12   |   Presslp   |   9 respect

Agreed Aaron, iso's are generally not the way to go (a la Henry Abbott's article from I just think they offer much more talented players (aka superstars) to maximize those talents by playing 1-on-1. This, I think, should apply to LeBron James specifically, seeing as how he can take on ANYONE in an iso situation.

It's interesting, because he's so criticized for passing it off all the time, it must mean he doesn't really take the opportunity to shoot those final shots. What if he did? What if he DIDN'T do the right thing and took it upon himself? Would he see more crunch time success?

6/5/12   |   aaronjchung   |   264 respect

Personally, I'm not a fan of isolation plays where superstars play hero ball at the end of a game.  But if you're a basketball spectator or nominal fan, it does make for great television. 

Coaches have to do a better job of drawing up plays for their superstar, off screens and back picks, and then have them shoot, rather than having them in an isolation situations from the top of the key for a fadeaway 20 footer.

But if Spoelstra is not one of those X's and O's guys, so when the game is on the wire, I have to agree with you Pressip, just give the ball to Wade.

6/4/12   |   Presslp   |   9 respect

(Edited by Presslp)

Right on, LeBron is one of the most scrutinized athletes ever. No, not just athlete....human being.

But rightly so, I think. When you act so entitled, when you promise your new team's town "not one, not two........" championships, you're inviting the scrutiny that comes with your failure. Pair that with an unparalleled ability, people are always going to analyze you. especially your haters.

Now, as for taking the last shot....I do think that's the job of a superstar/clutch player/closer. I'm a big believer that crunch time offers pressure that some players can handle, and most players can't. Jordan thrived in those situations. Kobe thrives (often, though not always). I'm hesitant to believe Udonis Haslem does. LeBron, consistently, does not, which makes me believe he is not of that mold. A Hall of Fame talent, for sure, but not a closer. LeBron's clutch shot in tying the game, I think, is an aberration, a once in awhile thing that many players can execute from time to time. Udonis Haslem has hit a game winner before....but do you consider him a closer? Of course not.

Anyway, I just don't think LeBron has the moxy other closers have to finish in the clutch. And that's fine. It doesn't take away from his talent.

Just give the ball to Wade instead if you need a game winner, lol.

6/4/12   |   GeorgeMon   |   159 respect

Great article! I really enjoyed reading it. The last two games have been excellent, we are witnessing some fantastic basketball.