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Winderman: LeBron’s comments on Lakers last play speak volumes

May 17, 2012, 3:49 PM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

LeBron James opened a window Thursday into how he views a game even when he’s not playing . . .

And it’s remarkably similar to how he views it when he is.

As he watched the closing seconds Game 2 of Lakers-Thunder from his Indianapolis hotel room, what caught James’ eye was not Kobe trying to break slightly free in the lane, but rather how much Russell Westbrook was cheating off Steve Blake in the right corner.

“He got caught peeking in the paint, and left a very good shooter open,” James said following Thursday morning’s shootaround at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

So Metta World Peace made the pass that LeBron saw from a high-definition distance.

For James, it was no different than the Heat going to Mario Chalmers for the final shot of their Game 2 loss to the Pacers, or even deferring to Dwyane Wade for a layup attempt late in that Tuesday loss to Indiana.

“I think it was a great play,” he said of the shot that came up short for the Lakers. “Ron Artest made the perfect play, and [Blake] just missed it. You make that shot, you miss it, the storyline gets changed.”

Ah, the storyline. No sooner did Blake miss then James was well aware of what would ensue.

“I thought it was a great play,” James said. “You guys know my answer. I thought it was a great play.”

And that’s the thing, he truly believes it was a great play, just as he was so comfortable in standing by how the Heat played the closing seconds in the Game 2 loss to the Pacers.

You may not agree with his superstar approach, but there is no doubt, as you listened Thursday, that he would do it the same way again.

And have the Lakers do it the same way they did Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

It is why he is not Kobe, but closer, perhaps, in the Lakers’ lineage to Magic.

“I’m not going to get too much into it. You guys know I’ve been there before,” he said. “I thought it was a great play.”

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

  1. andrewproughcfe - May 17, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    ESPN is out today with stats showing Kobe is something like 0-7 in the last 6 years with last-second shots, and hasn’t hit a game-winning playoff game shot in 4 years, so a lot of your criticism of LeBron is losing its bite.

    It’s one thing to say LeBron is no Kobe, but if Kobe is also no “Kobe”, then maybe folks should start comparing these guys to Derek Fisher and Robert Horry and Steve Kerr instead.

  2. DonRSD - May 17, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    LBJ is mentally soft. He has no killer instinct.
    That’s fine.
    Stop trying to make him have one.
    You can see he is soft by when Granger got in his face, he didn’t even say anything to him……LBJ was worried about the ref.
    Let someone get that close to Jordan, Kobe or even Wade!
    This is why Wade must be the leader.
    LBJ is a beast, but the championship runs thru Wade & his killer instinct.

    • mannyfresh209 - May 17, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      Kobe would give that “you’re an idiot” smirk and that’d be IT.

      What happened when Artest had Kobe’s throat in his hands a couple years back? Kobe gave the ref the “save me!” look lol

      Get off this man’s jock

  3. BrownsTown (the 1st one, not the new guy using my name) - May 17, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Of all the things that earns LeBron some flack, this is one that’s often undeserved. Yes, THE guy on a team should take the big shot more often than not, but sometimes, it’s better to pass to a wide open shooter, assuming they’re a good shooter. I’m not sure when this unwritten rule started, but maybe someone with a better perspective on the history of the game can explain it. Is this a post-Jordan thing?

    Today, would “Bird steals the ball, passes to DJ” be followed by questioning Bird’s “killer” instincts?

    • ludachrisgsx - May 18, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      The problem is, the play that has been glamorized above all others is Jordan’s last second shot against the Cavs (I believe), or the one against Utah, not his passes to Kerr or Paxson. People remember the last second shot by the greats, not the role players, and now they come to demand that the leaders take the final shot or they’re weak.

      Ever since the Jordan marketing took over the NBA that’s all anyone cares about, and it sets a bad expectation in my opinion. A legendary player doesn’t necessarily have to take the last shot to influence the outcome of the game all the time. They just have to do what’s needed in that situation. One of Kobe’s best plays of his career was the alley-oop pass to Shaq against Portland in the 2000 playoffs when they came back to win their first ring together – kind of ironic isn’t it?

  4. dgbk - May 17, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    ppl always compare him to magic… but magic took lots of big shots……. i dont see them being the same when it comes to crunch time…. i cant imagine a close game where magic dont touch the ball in the last seconds…. lebron was okay being a decoy that last play.. that says a lot about him and the coach…

    • borderline1988 - May 17, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      Did Magic really take a lot of ‘big shots’? I’ll bet you that most people on this website were not basketball fans in the early 1980s.

      Everyone’s seen that sky hook in the Finals but I’m not sure what else.

      Lebron is obviously a bit soft (the last second shot thing is definitely in his head) but this whole killer instinct thing is way overblown.
      Kobe’s ‘killer instinct’ didn’t win him any championships…Shaq and Gasol won him championships.
      Would you say Duncan has a ‘killer instinct’?

      • ludachrisgsx - May 18, 2012 at 5:45 PM

        Kobe and Duncan might as well sit on the bench then and let their team win them more championships since they aren’t needed… please.

  5. dirtybird2020 - May 17, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Dont try to explain your cowardness!

  6. hus10188 - May 17, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    While we he’s at it, could we get Lebron’s thoughts on the Kevin Durant’s clutch game winner in the same game as well?

  7. nightrain42 - May 17, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    It was a good pass, he just missed it.

  8. ralfdrums - May 17, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Ridiculous, Lebron has hit game-winning shots, but let’s not elaborate on that. It was a great play indeed, championships in team sports are won with team effort, I remember it was John Paxson not Michael Jordan who hit the game winning 3 with seconds left on the clock in the Bulls 93 championship win. To win you have to have other guys make shots, plain and simple, they get paid too, if Chalmers, Jones, Miller and Wade had hit their shots in Tuesday’s game, Miami would’ve won that game easily. Last year Lebron singlehandedly carried this team into the finals with clutch after clutch shot against Boston and Chicago while Wade and Bosh were struggling. He still carried the team for most of the finals, it wasn’t just Dirk hitting shots for the Mavs in the finals, it was Terry, Chandler, Bareja, Stevenson, Marion, while on the Heat side everyone just sat back and waited for James to be Jesus and fly over everyone with the basketball. It doesn’t happen like that, it didn’t happen in Cleveland and it won’t happen happen in Miami unless these other idiots start making their wide open shots. Lebron James has done enough in my eyes and probably most avid observers to merit a spot in the HOF. Magic didn’t carry the Lakers by himself, Bird didn’t carry the Celtics by himself, neither did Jordan, Kobe, Duncan or anyone else for that matter. Championship is a complete team effort, if Chalmers, Jones, Miller, Battier and Cole can hit just about 40% of their wide open shots, the Heat can still win a championship this year. I don’t care if Lebron score 100 points every night unless these other guys contribute, they’ll never win a championship..

  9. 20dollardinners - May 17, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Whatever. The Spurs won 4 rings off big shots from their non-stars (Robert Horry, Steve Kerr, Bruce Bowan, etc). Championships are won by teams not superhero individual players.

    That being said Lebron does pass too much.

  10. dougmanoh - May 17, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    He’s right folks. Kobe was “across town” behind two defenders on the 3rd count of the inbounds with no timeouts left. Meta made a good split second decision. He made a crisp pass to the 2nd best outside shooter on the team who was left wide open. The bigger question is what made the Lakers crumble to the point that they needed that last play? They had a good 3 possession lead with a little more than 2 minutes remaining. You guessed it, Kobe’s poor plays. Like the inbounds pass stolen by KD. He was probably out of steam. Which explains why he was so slow to get open for that last play.

    • ludachrisgsx - May 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM

      You can’t deny that Kobe’s errors cost the Lakers that game – 3 critical errors. He threw a pass away, dropped a pass out of bounds, and dribbled the ball too long when they had a foul to give. The fact that they didn’t run a good offensive set in the last 2 minutes can be blamed on the coach, but you cut out 1 of Kobe’s 3 critical mistakes and they still win that game. You don’t expect that from him.

  11. jolink653 - May 17, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    yet another reason why he shouldn’t ever be considered one of the best all time…he came to the heat so he wouldn’t have to be the guy to take those shots he could defer to wade in the closing seconds because he doesn’t have that jordan-esque desire to be the guy with the ball in his hands with the game on the line…you can see the difference between him and kobe and even durant…KD wants that ball in his hands with the clock winding down just like kobe does because they both have the confidence to take the last shot…real champions want that ball in crunch time and all lebron does is let someone else be the hero…as much as i dislike him i’d at least have some respect for him if he were to take that last shot and miss but he never even tries…sad

  12. mikejd12 - May 17, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    All this talk about game winning shots Kobe is 0 for his last 7 , sorry Lebron scoring 17 or 16 in the fourth is not enough. Shut your mouth and learn basketball. All u haters are always looking for something to wine about. Jordan didn’t always take the last shot. Get over it!

    • cantonbound13 - May 17, 2012 at 6:29 PM

      he’s also only shooting 16% when attempting a game winning or tying shot the last 2 seasons. Pretty pathetic! Not hating, just fact!

  13. cantonbound13 - May 17, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    South Florida media kissing LBJ’s overrated a$# again. LeBron did make the right decision in not going to Chicago, LA or NY. The media there would destroy him for his lack of killer instinct & his inability to close out big games. He needed a soft market like Miami. He always looks to surround himself with “yes men”. Please don’t ever compare him to Magic. Magic has lead his team to multiple championships. He also hit big shots in big moments, remember his famous baby hook shot in the Boston Garden? Most Heat fans don’t realize that because they’ve been following the NBA for 2 years now.

    • mrwrightsdad - May 17, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      Does it still count as a burn if you have used that 2 year joke in every post? You hating is pathetic

      • cantonbound13 - May 18, 2012 at 5:02 AM

        Can’t escape the truth. The facts say a lot.

    • cullenand99 - May 17, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      Dude, you’re freaking pathetic. Do you refresh the page every 5 seconds waiting for a LeBron article to pop up so you can bash him? As for the “he never hits big shots in big moments” bull, look up game 2 of the 2009 playoff series vs Orlando and game 5 vs Detroit in the 2007 ECF. I don’t even like the Heat or LeBron, but you and that guy who is bitter about the Knicks being destroyed are really starting to annoy me.

      • cantonbound13 - May 18, 2012 at 5:09 AM

        Are you seriously considering almost a half court heave against Orlando a big shot? Even LeBron was shocked that went in. By the way they lost that series.The only impressive moments for LeBron was that game against Detroit. I blame Detroit for not double teaming him at all in that 4th quarter. But what does that matter, he got swept in the finals shortly after that by San Antonio & played horribly in that series.
        By the way, I live in Miami & use to be a Heat fan until the “decision” & embarrassing pep rally by these 3 clowns where a bum, with no rings predicted 9 championships. Hard to root for a big mouth like LeBron.

      • cullenand99 - May 18, 2012 at 4:14 PM

        I never said you had to root for the guy. That’s fine if you don’t it’s your choice, but I find it a little pathetic that you bash the dude on EVERY single article written about him. What did he do to you that was so bad that makes you bash the guy in all articles about him?

  14. blacc24 - May 17, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    The ONLY way Jordan was passing was the other guy was open more. Jordan NEVER went 2+min in the final min of a game without a fg attempt. And you’re lying if you didnt think that any of his last shots weren’t going in.

  15. nickel2crash - May 17, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    im not a lebron fan nor a lebron hater.. just bball fan.. and i really dont understand why the hate on his words..

    you are saying its better to take a low percentage shot.. guarded by 2-3 guys (which that’s what they would do to guys like Kobe and Lebron) than giving the ball to an open teammate which also happens to be a very good shooter?

    Purely from basketball point of view (or at least what i was thought while playing hoops) you should go for the best option and not try to force the ball..

    And by the way.. just checked some stuff online and it seems Bryant is a 25.9% vs Lebron 41.7% on game winning shots during the playoffs.. just google “lebron vs bryant game winning shots” and see the first result

    • ludachrisgsx - May 18, 2012 at 6:18 PM

      LeBron has brought all this magnifying glass criticism upon himself. He wants to be known as ‘King James’. He wants to create a media event for every major “decision” he makes, then he needs to live with the dissection of every sentence and word that comes out of his mouth and the criticism that comes along with it. Until he lives up to the expectations he’s created for himself (and some that he didn’t create) he’ll have people judging him by what he says and not the titles he’s won… well, maybe. I suppose even the titles won’t shut some people up – just ask Kobe.

  16. lakerluver - May 17, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    First of all, MIKEJD12, it’s WHINE, my friend. As for Kobe v. LeBron, I don’t care how many REGULAR season MVP’s LBJ wins, he will never be on Kobe’s level unless he wins a few titles. LBJ can win all the individual awards but he still has no intestinal fortitude. Let me school you, the difference in the two players is Kobe wasn’t “The Chosen” one out of high school, or the King. Kobe has had to work to get everything he’s gotten. LBJ has been GIVEN everything since he was 14 years old. That’s why he lacks the heart and hunger that the other all time greats have.

  17. bhester1906 - May 17, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Damn get off the mans back. It was a good play the guy was wide open. If he made it the shot they’d be praising Kobe for being a decoy

  18. cantonbound13 - May 17, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    It’s always a great play when LeBron does not take the game winning or tying shot. 16% shooting the last 2 seasons in those situations. Now he can’t say he has no good players surrounding him or can he?

  19. rosesacl - May 17, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    cultivate a “showtime” vibe….that’s what lebron is trying to imitate… closing out games himself will kill that vibe from ever materializing…. he wants to recreate the next big game james worthy, byron scott, kareem, cooper, magic…. don’t forget rambis, As kobe tried to imitate jordan, lebron is imitating magic.

  20. nyasdad14 - May 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    I think you’re really reaching with this story. Yeah, he doesn’t have a closer mentality, but he’s a fan of the game. Steve Blake is a very good shooter from three and he was WIDE open. Case closed.

  21. turnmymicup - May 17, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Its so pathetic how some people just hate for no reason. LBJ is right Steve shoudve hit that shot. Blake was wide open on the play. Wide open? WIDE OPEN! If he makes that shot its a different game. All this talk that Jordan, Magic or Kobe would take the shot due to their killer instinct. Be serious here. The game winning pass is just as good as the game winning shot.

  22. qwest12 - May 17, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    It’s not his game, he can’t shoot as good as durant or Kobe especially when guarded. If time is winding down, and you need to go full court down by one or two and you can get it to lebron in some space so he can get a head of steam and penetrate he is the guy. If you have a half court set time running down you have to use him to draw the d so one of the better shooters can get a good look. Lebron just knows his limitations.

  23. laserw - May 17, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    LeBrick James has enough history now to conclude the following:

    1. He is “Mr. Regular Season”. No one pads his stats better than LeBrick. The games are essentially meaningless and he is at ease and runs up his stats.
    2. At each increasingly tough layer of the playoffs, LeBrick starts to disappear. He has always demonstrated the ability to score when he is not threatened or demanded to step up; however, when the games get tougher, you can’t find LeBrick. So consistent is this disappearing act that any team who hires him should make him work for free during the playoffs.
    3. LeBrick will never be a leader. He is his own man, in his own world, and is the most important person ever born. He is not a team player, he will never lead by example, he will never sacrifice to become a better player. What is worse is that LeBrick is even a worse person than he is a teammate.
    4. When a team plays the same or better without him in the game, you know you’ve paid for a lemon. There is simply no case to be made to have LeBrick as a starter. He has no impact when it counts. When things are easy, he looks like a winner. But you know for sure he doesn’t have your back – because your back isn’t his.

    One would have expected that LeBrick would have seen last year as a wakeup call and to soul-search and to improve. If anything, he is even worse than he’s ever been in the playoffs. He may have points, but you can’t point to any game where he willed his team to victory. He is a classic choker – the NBA’s version of Donovan McNabb over at the Eagles in the NFL. Both players should be ashamed that they collected a paycheck for their underwhelming playoff performances in big games.

  24. sweetnlow44 - May 18, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    Lame article. Lebron is right in his assessment that the play last night was a good play. To say otherwise would be stupid. It’s not often that a decent 3 point shooter gets that good of a look in a situation like that. It was a great look. What do you expect him to say? If he said that it wasn’t a good play, then I could understand ripping the guy, but come on…

  25. africanballer - May 18, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    I’m getting sick and tired of reading the same crap about one player everyday. I am going to ‘unsuscribe’ in exactly 5 minutes

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