If you thought LeBron James had improved coming into the 2011 NBA season, you were absolutely right. There is nothing about his game that has not been elevated, except for one small step back that fans saw take place during the Golden State Warriors game.
In the fourth quarter, James did not attempt a single shot except for two from the free-throw line, one which he subsequently missed.
I'm not laying the blame solely on LeBron’s shoulders, because he did have a double-double with seven assists to add to the pot. His 26 points were a comfortable addition.
That was until in the fourth quarter, when Miami’s lead went from 12 points to zero while they were outscored by 12 going into overtime. While all of this was taking place, James was standing in the background with only a single point accumulated, allowing a Stephen Curry-less Warriors team to take the top-ranked team in the league into overtime.
LeBron is a great player and has the capability to retire as one of the top five to ever step foot onto the court. Yes, top five. The one avenue of his game that continues to be questioned, however, is the fact that he seems to shrink away in late-game moments.
Or, at the very least, he seems to come up short on those long haul shots on the perimeter.
But, no one notices when Miami is winning. It is only when the losses come, especially against squads that should be handled with finesse by South Beach, that everyone realizes that any lackluster effort from him in the fourth quarter is unacceptable.
So, what happened? There are more than a few explanations that could be handed out in his defense or to bash him even more than he has been in recent seasons.
You could say that he just sucks. LeBron James is a joke and he is overrated. But, that would only be overriding emotions from “The Decision” making your head swarm with thoughts of anger and media exhaustion.
LeBron is not overrated by any means, and his offensive and defensive consistency proves it. James is the most talented player in the league, but there is an aspect of his court performance that needs to improve massively if he wants to be remembered at the height of his potential and not resting where it is merely comfortable.
People are sick of hearing about how great he is at the end of a win without being able to scream how great he was in fourth quarter contributions. Unfortunately for the King, the time is now. He is still riding high in MVP candidacy, let’s not forget, and Miami has the best chance in the league to win in the NBA Finals right now.
But, shying away from those moments will only makes things worse. Not a single field goal attempt in the fourth quarter is unacceptable from anyone. Especially if your name is LeBron James.