Is LeBron James Too Unselfish or Too Unsure of Himself in the Clutch?
Blaming LeBron James for an inability to deliver in the clutch has become a stale story to tell.
Because the popular narrative is to blame LeBron, that's what we'll be subjected to hearing once again moving forward. But is that really the right stance to take?
Despite playing a game-high 43 minutes and carrying the load for his team in Game 2 against the Pacers, LeBron's 28 points, nine rebounds, five assists and six steals weren't enough to come away with the victory. Although the hyperbolic stances have already begun with James' name in the headline, he's not the only one who deserves blame.
Miami's third-leading scorers behind LeBron and Dwyane Wade were Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers—each had five points on a combined 3-of-12 shooting. As a team, the Heat shot just 34.6 percent from the floor and a putrid 1-of-16 from behind the three-point line.
If Chalmers hits the open shot, everyone is calling Erik Spoelstra a genius for using LeBron and Wade as decoys while congratulating James on delivering an emphatic effort for his team when they needed him to step up. Instead, Chalmers' miss has led us to return to the same old story that has been perpetuated for far too long.
LeBron is more Magic Johnson than he is Michael Jordan—and there is nothing wrong with that.
James is constantly looking to boost the confidence of his teammates by setting them up with opportunities to score. That is the same thing the public continues to laud Kobe Bryant for doing during the latter stages of his career. It can't work both ways.
Thinking that LeBron James isn't confident in his abilities at any juncture of the game is foolish. We're talking about the same guy who is the most talented player in the game today and just collected his third regular-season MVP award.
It's not about being unselfish—it's about making the right basketball play.
That thought is often lost in a star-driven league. Fans come to see guys like LeBron and Kobe put on a show, but the concept of team basketball shouldn't be lost. The argument that these guys are "paid to make big shots" doesn't hold up.
Role players and non-stars aren't allowed to make big shots? Aren't they all paid to play the game of basketball?
I understand the differences in player salaries can be interpreted in different ways, but the reason LeBron makes more money than someone like Mike Miller is because he has a different role on the team.
The obsession and perpetuation of "hero ball" in the league has reached a point where we (sometimes undeservedly) blame the stars for their team's larger problems.
If Miami shoots 6.3 percent from the three-point line and under 35 percent overall, why should James shoulder the load of the blame? Is it convenient for the anti-LeBron crowd because it fits with the public perception? It's time to dig deeper.
James might not be the player you want him to be, but that doesn't make it right to simply blame him when his team loses.
It's lazy, shallow and downright wrong to pin the Game 2 loss squarely on James when this Heat team was missing one of its key components in Chris Bosh.
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