It’s the end of a game; your team is down one, you have the ball and the opposing team attempts to trap. Do you: A) Take a highly contested LOW PERCENTAGE shot OR do you B) make the RIGHT Basketball play and pass to a wide open teammate who has an uncontested 15 footer? The answer you might ask, C) Whichever you decide you will be criticized heavily so it doesn’t really matter at all. This in a nutshell, the supposed “legacy” of LeBron James. Whatever he did en route to that failed situation doesn’t matter, if he personally goes on a type of run that only truly SPECIAL players are capable of making to keep a team in a game, pundits only remember the ending result.
There are many factors when labeling a player “Clutch” or not, the common denominator being the players who are considered “clutch” aren’t afraid to take the shot. That is where LeBron has fallen short, he doesn’t take the shot at times when it’s OKAY to take the shot. The other times are when he does make the right play; in some cases it’s swinging the ball to a player who is WIDE OPEN for a HIGHER PERCENTAGE shot and it doesn’t work out in his favor. Every NBA fan has favorite player, every NBA fan considers a certain amount “Elite” players to be “Clutch.” Those players do not hit the shot EVERY TIME, but they aren’t AFRAID to take the shot. It’s the moment, some players EMBRACE the moment head on and are willing to live with the outcome whether it’s positive or negative.
Does anyone remember the 90’s when the Bulls were running thru the NBA? As many times as Michael Jordan hit big shots at the end of games, he also made the right basketball play and passed the ball to an OPEN teammate that MADE the shot. Jordan was known to have a “Killer’s Mentality” at the end of games, he imposed his will on the opposing teams. Jordan not only embraced those moments, he RELISHED in them! How about when Kobe Bryant was in search of winning his first title without Shaquille Oneal? Kobe won two titles after Shaq left, during those title runs Bryant hit MANY clutch baskets. Bryant also showed his trust in teammate Derek Fisher on several occasions, Fisher is still a Laker now primarily because of his “clutch” contributions during those two title runs. The reason Kobe is feared at the end of games is because he isn’t AFRAID OF MISSING, he truly believes that every shot he takes in “clutch” situations are going in. That’s what allows people to link Kobe to Michael, they not only have the ability to will their teams to victory, they’re not afraid of the moment!
LeBron James will go down as one of the truly SPECIAL players to have ever played in the NBA when it’s all said and done. The question is how many titles he’ll have accumulated, it’s up to LeBron. James has yet to truly SEIZE the moment, he hasn’t even begun to EMBRACE the moment. At this stage of his career, LeBron is able to impose his will on the opponent throughout a game. There are periods in which he DOMINATES and the only one on the floor capable of stopping him is in fact HIMSELF. We have all seen FLASHES of “Clutch” LeBron, the issue is that he isn’t always WILLING to take the shot in those situations where taking the shot is the right play. That is the problem, HE stops himself from succeeding in those moments because he is not yet ready to EMBRACE the moment. James is afraid of the negative outcome, until that time all of this “clutch” nonsense will continue. Whether you deem LeBron as “Clutch” or not, don’t let that distract you from his brilliance as an all around basketball player.