Tuesday, May 22, 2007

LeBron Passes Ball, Causes Controversy

There's a ton of media chatter today the wake of LeBron James' decision to pass off rather than take the last (and potentially game tying) shot in last night's Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons. The typical commentary goes something like this: LeBron doesn't have the killer instinct, he's got to step up and want the ball at the end of the game, LeBron can't be the next Jordan until he takes over and makes game winners, etc. This kind of talk is, of course, ridiculous.

LeBron James was five of fifteen from the field and he failed to get to the free throw line. He was probably fouled several times taking the ball to the basket, but the referees just weren't giving him any calls. Therefore, it was a smart play for LeBron to drive, attract a double team and dish out to Donyell Marshall for an open three pointer (that could have won the game for Cleveland).

LeBron James is a special talent. He's able to score inside and out - he can easily take defenders off the dribble and finish in the lane, but can be equally dangerous from the perimeter. What sets LeBron apart from other scorers, though, is his ability to see the floor like a point guard, and create shots for his teammates. The dude is a the total package - a big, strong, athletic wing player with an all round game and a high basketball IQ. What's more, he's not an ego-maniacal ball hog. He wants to make the smart play. The best play.

He did just that when he dished off to Donyell Marshall last night.

You don't' have to step up and take every last shot to be a superstar. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird used their superior court vision and basketball smarts to win games by either finding open teammates or taking the last shot themselves. Bird and Magic always did the right thing at the right time. That's why they were so great. LeBron doesn't need to become a Kobe Bryant type ball hog. He needs to keep on making the smart play.

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