LeBron James failed to find a hiding place.
The NBA MVP lived up to his reputation yet again on Tuesday night—not as the best basketball player in the world, but as a Grade-A choke artist. 'Bron backers will continue to defend their "King." But despite their efforts to put James side-by-side with the league’s all-time greats, the sane realize that those comparisons are downright ridiculous.
With 54 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Game 2 against the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat found themselves down one point. But fear not, a Pacer personal foul sent LeBron—the MVP—to the free-throw line with an opportunity to take the lead.
After wetting the bed in the 2011 NBA Finals, this was the moment he had been waiting for—a chance for redemption. It was a shot to silence his critics. "LeChoke" wouldn’t have trended on Twitter, but instead: "LeTriumph."
Unsurprisingly, though, LeBron missed both of them.
But still, no reason to panic existed. Plenty of time remained in the game. After a Dwyane Wade missed layup, though, the time to panic had arrived.
Miami managed to get the ball back with eight seconds left on the clock down three. James had another shot. But everyone and their mother knew that he wasn’t going to take the shot. Instead, Mario Chalmers heaved a prayer from downtown which wasn't answered giving Indiana the victory.
According to ESPN, LeBron defended himself after the loss:
"The game is not lost or won with two free throws. But I definitely want to come through for my teammates. So I'll get an opportunity again. I know I'll be at the line again in that situation. Just go up and make 'em."
James is right. He didn’t just lose the game with two free throws. Instead of rising to the occasion, taking the final shot and winning the contest for the Heat, he chose to play his favorite final two-minute pastime: hot potato.
As "LeChoke" began to trend on Twitter, naturally, 'Bron backers fulfilled their duty to defend "The Chosen One." Following the game, Bomani Jones tweeted:
the rub for lebron: ppl act like he can't make the big shot, then get mad when he doesn't take it. got it.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) May 16, 2012
But Jones obviously doesn’t get it.
LeBron can’t make the big shot. He’s proven that throughout his career (and please don’t try to bring up his game-winning travels against the Washington Wizards ages ago). But if he ever wants to justify the label of an all-time great, than he must learn to make the big shot.
Fans freely utter LeBron’s name in the same sentence as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and (gulp) Michael Jordan. That trio includes three of the most clutch players in league history. James can’t be in that category until he (actually wins something...anything and) learns how to make the big shot.
Fun fact of the day: One can’t improve at something if he or she refuses to attempt the thing that they're trying to improve.
LeBron must demand that he take the final shot. If he's truly the best player in the league—the MVP—this shouldn't be a problem.
Being a physical freak and defensive fiend are nice. But let me break this down for you…
Basketball is a game. A game is a competition. The point of a competition is to win.
How in the world can you call James the best basketball player in the world if he can’t win the game for his squad when everything is on the line? It makes no sense. Fans get caught up with numbers and highlight plays and forget what truly matters.
LeBron is the most talented player in the NBA. But until he embraces crunch time, he'll be nothing more than a really good Scottie Pippen.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.