Not Like Mike
Instead of doing a full recap of last night’s Boston Celtic 93-91 overtime win against the Miami Heat, I want to focus on my lasting memory from a fairly entertaining, but not overly well-played game . LeBron James has great career numbers. He is a rare physical specimen with a skill set never before seen in the NBA. He is on track to have a hall of fame career, will probably be in the all-star game every season between now and his retirement, and will have more shoe deals and endorsements than any NBA baller, with the exception of maybe MJ. However, with the game on the line and the ball in his hand, LeBron James is not and will not ever be in the same conversation as the legendary players he yearns to be mentioned with.
WIth the game tied at 89 in regulation, James had the ball in his hand with a chance to win the game. He dribbled at the top of the key, looking poised to either drive the lane or pull up for a game winning dagger. As a kid growing up, I witnessed Jordan succeed in the same position time and again. Kobe Bryant has made a career of having the ball with the game on the line. James had an opportunity to build his legacy in that same situation last night. However, in the biggest moment, James dribbled to his right, got caught in the air, and threw a bail-out pass to Udonis Haslem, who missed a fade away jump shot. Memo to LeBron James…the Miami Heat pay you 18 million dollars a year to take that shot! Udonis Haslem….are you kidding me?!?! Anyway, Haslem missed a tough shot, the Celtics forced OT and went on to win while James watched from the bench.
During the game, commentator Jeff Van Gundy was constantly saying how clutch LeBron James is. With just over a minute left, James hit a wide-open three pointer to tie the game, then came down and forced an offensive foul on Kevin Garnett to get the ball in Miami’s possession for the last shot. Van Gundy was going nuts, talking about how clutch does not mean just making the last shot, but also by making the other plays on the court to help your team in the big spot. However, 30 seconds later when James passes the final shot, Van Gundy says nothing about it. In overtime, when LeBron fouled out of the game, Van Gundy carried on about how it was a bad call, even though it was the same exact play that LeBron James drew on KG in regulation. LeBron gets more calls than anyone I’ve ever seen, and when a few actually go against him, he looks perplexed and a commentator like Van Gundy, who I really enjoy and usually agree with, had the audacity to complain that James didn’t get a fair deal.
Watching LeBron sit on the bench as Dwayne Wade missed a game winning three in OT was beautiful. I hope James was taking notes on what a leader does with the ball in his hand and the game on the line. Wade made a great pump fake, got Marquis Daniels in the air, and got himself a wide open look for the game. Even though he missed the shot, at least Wade can take solace in the fact that he shot the ball. There was zero chance he was giving up that shot to a lesser player like Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier or god forbid….Udonis Haslem! Can you imagine Michael Jordan passing the ball to Luke Longley with the game on the line? How about Kobe deferring to Josh McRoberts with 5 seconds left in a postseason game? With the game up for grabs, LeBron showed the world what he’s really made of as he declared that he really doesn’t want the game to come down to him. Spoelstra needs to pay attention to his players’ makeup and put the ball in #3′s hands in these future situations. At least he’s man enough to put himself on the line.