LeBron James is the most clutch player on the Miami Heat.
According to the NBA‘s website, James leads the Heat in points, rebounds, and assists in clutch moments this season. In 35 minutes of clutch play James has scored 29 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists. To quote Brooklyn Nets partial owner and rap mogul Jay-Z “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t,” and James’ numbers show that he is the most clutch player on the Heat.
James and the Heat are no longer playing late game hero ball the way he and Dwyane Wade played when the team was first assembled in 2010. The Heat no longer simply put the ball in James’ or Wade’s hands and allow them to try to create a miracle shot. Head coach Erik Spoelstra has now found a way to put the right shooters on the floor with James and allow James to do what he has tried to do his entire career, make the right play.
Last season James was criticized for passing the ball to Udonis Haslem at the end of the game versus the Utah Jazz because Haslem missed. Yet it was clear that James made the right play, the right pass, but the miss took away from the greatness of the play. James has not become Michael Jordan with the game on the line taking fall away jump shots and walking away victorious but he is more like the Jordan who passed to Steve Kerr, John Paxson, or Toni Kukoc and made the right and game winning play.
James admits that his approach is no different. It’s fair to say that for the first time he’s reaping the reward of trusting his teammates.
“It doesn’t matter, I make the right play,” James said at practice Monday. “That’s how I’ve always played growing up. That’s what we have teammates for. This isn’t an individual game. It’s a team game and that’s how I approach it.”
James is completely right. Basketball is a team game and since he is the best individual player on his team he should receive the credit or criticism when the team fails to win, especially if they lose close games. James makes the right basketball play no matter how early or late in a game which does fit the definition of clutch because that is what it takes to win games late most consistently.