Let’s journey back to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Miami Heat were down by two with possession and the ball in LeBron James’ hands. He drove to the basket, defenders collapsed, and as a result he found an open Chris Bosh in the right corner with a good look at a three-point attempt. Bosh went on to miss that shot, and the frenzy about James not being a clutch player was completely refreshed.
Now, fast-forward to last night of Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. With the Heat down by one in the final minutes, LeBron found himself in a familiar situation. He had the ball at the top of the key, drove left and as defenders again collapsed, he found a wide-open Bosh in the right corner. This time Bosh delivered, which proved to be the game-winner.
It is dumbfounding how the best player in the world gets ridiculed by fans and media for attempting to make a play and giving his team an opportunity to simply win the series as opposed to attempting a layup which would possibly force overtime. Then, when the same player makes a similar play which proves to be successful, that “pass” is hardly even spoken about.
Miami won Game 2 for a variety of reasons, and most of them were a result of James’ play. However, his bullet pass to Bosh was the x-factor. Yes, Bosh had a little more space than he did against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5, but isn’t that a credit to James?
LeBron continues to play the game of basketball the correct way, and more importantly he continues to show trust in his teammates. It is completely foolish for people to say “LeBron James doesn’t want the ball at the end of games.” That statement is outlandish and absurd. He always wants the ball, and just like he does for the first 47 minutes, LeBron will make the correct basketball play in the final minute as well.
The comparison of being a combination of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson is very accurate. The criticism stems from LeBron being too much like Magic at the end of games, as opposed to Michael. Yet when the right play is made, it is almost expected by the public, and the celebration does not nearly meet the negativity when James does not come through.
Fans and media love a redemption story, but for whatever reason, LeBron still has much more to prove to many people. This comes even though the Heat have yet to lose two consecutive games in the playoffs. This comes with James averaging 27.8 PPG with a clip of 56 percent from the field after a loss. LeBron will continue to be a target to the public whenever something goes wrong, but he has proven time and time again that he will not back down and is up for the challenge.