Thursday, April 06, 2006

What does LeBron have to do?

I saw a program on the Chicago Bulls first championship the other day. They were playing the Lakers and the consensus is that this is the series where Michael Jordan really became the greatest player of his generation (if not all time). The reason? He made his teammates better, trusted them and passed to them in big situations. Basically, he learned that he didn't have to do it all himself.

Which brings me to LeBron James. BJ Armstrong wrote a column today about James passing up last second shots. I have a couple complaints about this.

The Cavs were on the back end of back to back games, playing their 4th game in 5 nights and traveled the night before. They're going to get a lot of shit for losing to the Knicks (as they should) but for as bad as they played, they had a chance to win it at the end. I'll take that.

But on to Armstrong, he says this about James:

In losing to the Knicks, LeBron James dished to Larry Hughes for an open 3, which would have won it, instead of taking a final tying shot himself. Was that the right move?

LeBron has to shoot it. They were down 18 in the fourth quarter, and they had tied it because LeBron stepped up and scored 21 of his 36 points in the fourth. If he's good enough to get you to the dance, he should be good enough to win it.

When he made that pass to Larry, he's got to know this is only Hughes' second game back. You don't expect Larry to have the legs and stamina to make a shot at that point in the game.

LeBron has that type of talent where if he's going to reach a level of greatness, then he's going to have to face the fears of losing that game. Because in the long term, he needs to accept the responsiblity of losing the game, just as he accepts the responsibility for getting them back.

There's only about five players who can play at that level at that stage of the game. With greatness comes responsibility.

First of all, his last sentence there sounds a lot like Spider Man... but anyway. The Cavs were on a 9 game winning streak, I don't want to say the Cavs were due, but they were playing at a high level for awhile, and it is natural to over look a 19 win team like the Knicks. Which proves LeBron and the Cavs still have room to grow. What I really didn't want to see happen was the ESPN borg to keep showing the Cavs losing to the Knicks and make a big deal out of LeBron passing.

Maybe Armstrong doesn't watch a lot of Cavs games, I dunno. Maybe the NBA media has been enamored with the Nets win streak and ignoring the Cavs, I dunno. But LeBron has to shoot it?

During the Cavaliers 9 game win streak, the Cavs beat the Bulls because on the last play of the game, James drove the ball, drew the defense and passed to Flip Murray who hit the game winning three. Then they beat the Raptors on a last second shot, how? James drove again, drew the defense and passed to Damon Jones who hit the go ahead three. During the win streak James hit his first game winning shot versus the Bobcats, in overtime and everyone went nuts (it was the lead story on Sports Center). You know how they got to OT? LeBron found a wide open Flip Murray for a game tying three. During the win versus the Heat, LeBron found a streaking Donyell Marshall for dunk that gave the Cavs a four point lead and put the game away.

During the Heat game LeBron went toe to toe with Dwayne Wade for the entire fourth quarter and won. He hits the game winning shot vs the Bobcats, single handedly destroyed the Mavericks, scores 19 in the fourth vesus Boston and somehow willed the Cavs back into the game verus the Knicks and BJ Armstrong says James needs to be better in the fourth quarter?

Come on, man. I get questioning passing to Hughes who had just come back from injury, hell I question it. But I trust LeBron to make the right decision in these situations. If Hughes makes the shot, the story is the LeBron brought the Cavs back from the brink and made the pass of the game.

To me, the real story is that LeBron shouldn't have had to make that decision at all, because they should've killed the Knicks. That, or the free throws. He was 8-14. That's terrible. The team shot 63% from the line. I'm not saying he's above criticism, but late game situations? Still?

Does the team need to learn not to play down to their opponents? Yes. Does LeBron need to be more efficient with his shots? Yes. Better at defense? Yes. Free throws? Hell yes.

But the fourth quarter and clutch time?


(also, Stevie Franchise was bitching about the officiating at the end of the game, saying the Cavs got all the calls. Right, like the charging foul called on Hughes (he scored the basket too) and the subsequent technical he recieved for arguing. Right.)

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