Before I start it should be noted that I’m a huge Heat fan and have been since I turned to basketball. So, early Saturday morning I sat up to watch the Jazz game. I knew it would be a close one given Utah’s front court depth and the fact that Bosh was away from the team (due to a death in the family). I also vividly remember last season’s game were Paul Milsap uncharacteristically buried us from deep (not my favourite memory).
Anyone who follows the NBA will know the outcome of the game at the weekend. The Heat picked up a tough loss despite a stellar game by LeBron James (35 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists 3 blocks, 0 turnovers). The talk after the game wasn’t focused around the end of the Heat’s win streak of 9 games at the time; it wasn’t the fact that Dwyane Wade missed a free throw late in the game and fouled Devin Harris twice in the act of shooting; and, it definitely wasn’t about Lebron’s great performance, which helped bring the Heat back from a 15-point defecit. No – the talk was all about the last 4.5 seconds of the game: Heat down by one. Ball on the sideline. Here’s what happened…
Personally, I thought it was the right basketball play. Superstars are paid to win games- Yes, but I don’t necessarily believe that they have to shoot the ball in order to do so. LeBron’s a different beast than Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant (who would’ve shot the ball no doubt) , he gets people involved and he trusts his teammates. I’ve seen Udonis Haslem knock down that shot consistently. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say it’s his shot. But, it seems the basketball world don’t share my perspective. Matt Harpring, who was calling the game, said what everyone else was thinking, “He passed it again!”. Haslem had only 4 points up until that point and LeBron had made 8 of his 9 attempts in the quarter including two huge three-pointers…. but I stand by his decision. I’d like to think I would’ve taken the same option (not that it matters).
“He passed it again!”
But he is LeBron James: the best basketball player in the world, by popular opinion. And, because he is what he is, he is signed up to be scrutinised on his every move. Despite everything that LeBron gives on court, people want more. It isn’t enough that LeBron posted that ridiculous statline or put the Heat on his back and made it a game. In order to avoid the scrutiny he has to shoot and make that shot, or better still, win a title. NBA/TNT Insider David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) tweeted it best:
“It was the right play. But that doesn’t matter. It will never matter until he wins a title. That’s what LeBron has put on himself.”
The Courtside Collective wants to know your thoughts.
Was it the right play? Should LeBron shoot in the clutch, regardless of the circumstances?