Friday, January 20, 2006

LeBron and Not Being Clutch

There's been a lot of talk recently (on the air, online and at the local bars) about how LeBron isn't clutch. He's had a pretty shitty road trip in the clutch department (he has been averaging something like 34-8-8, so this criticism is kinda nit picking). Even the The Sports Guy took a mailbag question and brought up Kobe airballing in the 97 Jazz Series.

He missed a game tying free throw and the game winning shot in LA and he missed another tying free throw in Denver and passed the last shot to Sasha Pavlovic.

And with Melo hitting a few big shots lately and Kobe seemingly doing it nightly, there's a ton of talk of LeBron either having the marbles or the fortitude or whatever in the closing seconds.

So far? Ya, I can see the point. But I've heard people talk about how he'll never be clutch or how some people have it and some people don't. This my friends, is bullshit.

I think the game winning shot is what LeBron missed the most out of skipping college. Overall, LeBrons game is far supierors to Melo, however, Melo went through a NCAA Tournament. Pressure packed games, win or go home, buzzer beaters. The Fuckin Tourney.

LeBron missed this experience. Lord knows what LeBron could've done in college. He obviously didn't need college ball for the most part. But I think missing the pressure of the tourney may have stunted his late game growth a little bit.


I was watching a little documentary on Magic and Bird's 1979 NCAA title game, how it set the stage for their NBA careers. Both Magic and Bird talked about how they were at the top of their games and how that season was a product of their previous college years. They both emphasised that they and their teams had to "learn how to win." Magic especially talked about how Michigan State fell short the season before, and they had to learn how to close out teams.

Both Magic and Bird played on the big stage in college. Jordan hit a game winning shot in college. Melo played on the big stage as well. NCAA Championship games, tournament runs, this helped them.

People forget before the Lakers won, Kobe airballed some huge potential game winning shots versus Utah. He had to learn too (and the learning accelerates with Shaq as your teammate and Phil Jackson as your coach- not that I'm not fans of Z and coach Brown, they just aren't Hall of Famers).


So my point is this. Do I think LeBron needs to step up more in the clutch? Yes. Do I think its a huge deal right now? No. It's a tough time in the year right now, a losing streak on a west coast trip. And lets not forget that the Cavaliers starting two guard and power forward are out. Oh, and neither point guard can shoot. Not the defensive pass first pg (Snow) nor the 'shooter' (Jones). So its a rough patch.

At the same time, LeBron is younger than me. He just turned 21. I'm pretty sure Bird, Magic and Jordan were still in college. The Cavaliers and LeBron are still learning how to win, and it takes time. Think about the playoffs.

The Pistons lost to the Celtics for years before breaking through. Bulls were the same to the Pistons. These things take time. Winning is learned. Closing out games/teams is a learning curve.

The Cavs and LeBron are light years away from where they were 2 years ago. They still have dead weight (Newble, Jones, Snow kinda, Gooden kinda). Fans want LeBron to bring the championship rings yesterday. The Cavs have gone from complete shit, to mediocre to above average in 3 years. Thats pretty good.

So I wouldn't worry about LeBron, though, if he's still missing free throws when hes old enough to rent a car (25) then I might start.

No comments: