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Why you should and should not care about LeBron’s whole “passing in the clutch” thing

Mar 3, 2012, 9:10 AM EDT


To review, in last night’s game, the Miami Heat came from behind to lead the Utah Jazz, only to watch Al Jefferson take the lead with a hook shot. At that point, the Heat had time for one final possession. Remember when LeBron passed up the final shot and everyone gave him huge grief about it? Yeah, this time he didn’t inbound, he took the ball, then swung and made a pass to a wide-open Udonis Haslem, who missed the game-winning jumper. Jazz win 99-98.

So here’s a little discussion of why you should and should not care about this.

You should care about this because: Well, it doesn’t really matter if you care about it or not, you’re going to be hearing about it for the next 24 hours until the Heat play the Lakers. Welcome to the news cycle, enjoy your stay.

You should not care about this because: It was a regular season game on a back-to-back on the road during a west coast trip. NBA teams lose these games all the time. Even Kobe. Even Jordan. Even Brian Cardinal. It happens, and it’s a blip in the radar. We can’t say “nothing matters until the playoffs” and then freak out over a regular season game. Well, we can, and we will, but we probably shouldn’t.

You should care about this because: It’s reflective of the standard people have set for LeBron. You can choose to set a different standard outside of our culture, but eventually your evaluations will regress back to the mean of our society. You can try and applaud James for making the right play, but it’s clear that we as a basketball society have redefined our decision-making chart based on Michael Jordan. To be the best, which James is, you have to pull-up and take and hit that mid-range-to-long-range jumper with a hand in your face. Making the right play is not considered the right play in this instance.

You should not care about this because: Let’s face it, it was the right play. An open jumper from a guy who has, in his career, hit a high number of big shots, is a much higher percentage shot than a contested off-dribble pull-up jumper. That’s just simply basketball. Michael Jordan passed to Steve Kerr. Kobe Bryant passed to Metta World Peace. You make the play when it’s there, especially when you’re as gifted of a passer as LeBron.

You should care about this because: Erik Spoelstra drew up a play that involved a pick and roll with Udonis Haslem instead of an isolation for LeBron or a pick and roll with Dwyane Wade. You know what we kill the Thunder for? Drawing up terrible late-game possessions that are essentially “Here, Kevin Durant, go win this” and sometimes it works and sometimes Durant throws up 35-foot threes that miss badly.Wade and James haven’t been super effective in the pick and roll throughout their time together, but that’s still the guys you want with the ball. Wade misses that shot and the narrative is likely different, slightly. It’s not the wrong play, but it says something about Spoelstra’s mindset and the approach of the team.

You should not care about this because: We destroy guys for being too selfish, for going hero mode, for jacking up shots instead of working in a system. Instead, now we’re killing players for making the right play, making the easy play, trusting in their teammates. The double standard is so blinding you can’t see the shine off James’ forehead, and as a bald guy, I can tell you that gets bright.

You should care about this because: It’s yet another game the Heat should have won over a lesser team that was lost due to a late-game decision by LeBron. (We can blame Haslme for the missed jumper but that’s not going to happen. Stars take the blame.) The Heat continue to struggle in key situations on the road nd most of the games in the playoffs aren’t going to be blowouts.

You should not care about this because: It was their first loss in weeks after a long winning streak all by double-digits. This team is not “in trouble” or “struggling.” They lost “a game.”

You should care about this because: Where was Dwyane Wade? Wade in the final minutes fouled Devin Harris on a three-pointer, one of the single dumbest plays of the season and then later missed a free throw. Where’s his public shaming? The fact that James’ narrative completely overrides a terrible game for Wade should probably be mentioned.

You should care about this because: James had 35-10-6 and poured it on in the fourth quarter. He made ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot to get them back in it and carried the team on his shoulders. When it counted, he passed to an open teammate. Most guys do what he did in the fourth and we marvel at their effort in a loss. James does it and there’s something wrong with him.

This is more about who we are than who LeBron James is.

  1. metalhead65 - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    the funny thing about this lebron worship site is had he taken the all star game shot and made it or last night’s shot the headline would have delared how he was now the most clutch player in the game and that that he had proven the haters all wrong. if ever does hit a one of those he will still not be a clutch player until he is like Jordan or Bird or Kobe who did and do it on a regular basis.

  2. bobthis - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    There is an undefined quality that it takes to be a champion. Lebron does not have it.

  3. scoregasmic - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Is it just me or were both the “why we should and why we should not care” really just why we shouldn’t care

  4. tyronebrown - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Great article! Those are my sentiments exactly. People act as if Lebron James is playing by himself. The man is on the same level as the greatest players in history and all he ever gets is criticized. If he shoots and misses be can’t handle the pressure. If he passes to a wide open man he can’t handle the pressure and for some reason dwade gets a free pass…whether he is fouling or dribbling the ball out of bounds no one says a word. The writer is correct, it says more about who we are than Lebron James.

  5. ceschatz - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    You lebron haters are pathetic. The guy is the best all around player in the NBA and you crucify him for making the smart play while he was double teamed? Jealousy sure does make you people say some pretty stupid things and completely make yourselves look like idiots. Thanks for the laughs though.

  6. Awol.West - Mar 4, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    This is a must read about LeBron James in the clutch

  7. 16x8equal49ers - Mar 5, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Im with Lebron on this one I mean Haslem was wide open with an open lane, you always go to the unguarded man. I can’t wait untill this guy wins a championship so people/media will lay to rest, (MJ won @ 28) he’ll have to get pass my Bulls 1st though hehe.

  8. gmsingh - Mar 7, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Lebron is the antithesis of Michael Jordan: Jordan was the most competitive guy ever with exceptional skills, and Lebron is the least competitive guy ever with exceptional skills.

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