Monday, March 5, 2012

Lebron can't pass the buck

Lebron James has been getting heavily criticized for passing to Udonis Haslem for the last shot in a game over the weekend. I don't feel like doing a full breakdown of why I think the clutch narrative in modern sports is overblown. But aside from that, I thought Lebron made the right play.

He was dribbling into a double team, meaning he probably wouldn't have made it to the basket, which is the highest % shot. I guess he could have dribbled into the second defender and tried to create a foul. But that's risky. And he could have pulled up before that second defender got right up on him and attempted a mid-range jumper. But that would have been a more contested shot than the one he got Haslem. Haslem isn't a very good shooter, 40% this season. But from that range and pretty open, I think the odds of him making that shot were around 50%.

Some have argued that Lebron should have at least forced a shot because he is a great player and he was hot at that moment. That just undermines the whole clutch thing. He had 17 points in the 4th quarter. He did plenty to help his team win that game. To focus on the pass is to ignore the great quarter and good entire game he played. And it's to gloss over what was at the very least a reasonable move to pass the ball to an open player.

I want Lebron to hit a game winner or two just to get everyone off his back. But it's unnecessary. He does more to win games than any other player in the league. Thus he is the best player in the league. Just because you don't win a game in a memorable fashion doesn't mean you are not those things. And what's worse, Lebron has hit those shots. The media and fans just choose to ignore it.

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