LeBron James is the NBA’s Best Except at the End of Games
The problem with comparing LeBron’s passing the ball to MJ’s is that Michael passed the ball to one of the best shooters in the history of the game. In fact, Steve Kerr holds the record for the highest three-point field goal percentage of all time at 45.4 percent. You can’t compare Michael’s decision to pass the ball to Kerr to LeBron’s decision to pass the ball to Udonis Haslem. Certainly, the stakes were higher for Michael Jordan as this was the NBA Finals, but that’s the point. Erik Spoelstra was not going to allow LeBron to make a mistake by passing the ball to a player like Haslem or Chalmers etc. to take the last shot.
Spoelstra knew that if he gave LeBron the ball that he would be taking a chance that one of his role players would be shooting for the win. So, he gave the ball to Wade who lost his dribble and was forced to take a difficult fade-away.
Wade didn’t score, but you want your superstar to take the final shot of the shot game. That’s why they are paid the big bucks. Because they can create a shot from nothing-they can find a way to get the ball in the basket when a role player can just score because the superstar has done something to get them open.
The superstar might be getting double-teamed or maybe the defense just has to keep a closer eye on him, which gives the role player an open shot, but there’s a reason why Erik Spolestra chose to put the ball in Dwayne Wade’s hands at the end of Game 4. He didn’t trust LeBron. And why should he? A week after LeBron was embarrassed at the All-Star Game because he didn’t take the last shot, he gave the ball up again and the Heat lost the game.
LeBron James must be the most talented athlete in the history of sports to be so reluctant to be a leader. He has been criticized enough for choosing to play for the Miami Heat (and his friends) rather than the New York Knicks (and the spotlight).
This is just an example of how funny life can be. Some of us are born with the DNA that gives us the drive to shine when everything is on the line while others just aren’t interested. This case is remarkable because it is on a global stage for everyone to see. We have never seen a player who is so clearly superior to everyone else in the world, but just doesn’t have it in his DNA to be the type of leader that refuses to let anyone else take the last shot in a game.
Wade might not be as athletically gifted as LeBron, but he is Batman and LeBron is Robin. Wade doesn’t mind if everyone else thinks that the roles are reversed. In 2006, Wade didn’t care if Shaq thought that he was Batman and Wade was Robin when the Miami Heat won the NBA title. But it was Wade who dominated in the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. It was Wade who was actually the MVP of the series. After the Heat dropped the opening two games, Wade scored 42, 36, 43, and 36 as the Heat won the next four games in a row.
Now lets go back to the 2012 series with the Knicks. The first game didn’t matter as the Heat destroyed the Knicks beating them by 33. Everyone for the Heat played well in that blowout. In Game 2, LeBron scored 19 and Wade scored 25. The game was a little bit closer, but the Heat won by 10. In Game 3, the Knicks were up 40-36 at half. With 7:22 to play in the third quarter, the game was tied at 42 and LeBron picked up his fourth foul so sat out until the fourth. In the final quarter, LeBron was seemingly on fire and put up 17 points to give the Heat a 17-point win.
But when LeBron was reinserted into the game in the fourth quarter, there was no more pressure. Dwayne Wade had already destroyed the Knicks’ will by keeping the Heat ahead of the Knicks without LeBron on the floor. Wade had 12 points in the third quarter after LeBron had to come out due to foul trouble. By the final quarter, Melo was exhausted from having to play so many minutes and LeBron was fresh.
Dwayne Wade is more clutch than LeBron, so Erik Spoelstra is going to rely on Wade when the game is on the line. Wade is going to get the ball at crunch time and we shouldn’t be surprised as this continues to happen throughout the playoffs and throughout the next few years as the Miami Heat keep making title runs.
When it comes to the entire universe, LeBron is the No. 1 player, but when it comes to the Miami Heat he’s No. 2 and rightfully so. When the pressure is on, LeBron would rather someone else deal with it. He doesn’t mind letting other people take the blame for the Heat’s losses even if it means he won’t get as much credit for the Heat’s wins.
Certainly Spoelstra was criticized for his tactics in Game 4 of this first round series but you have to figure he doesn’t care because he knows he made the right choice. And you know Wade doesn’t care. He just wants another title.