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.