BruceW

NBA 2012

514 posts in this topic

There was a question about basketball that showed up in another Forum. Let's get it going here.

My question: What is wrong with Lebron James.

The general belief is that this is the best player in the world. BUT he has yet to win an NBA crown. He has been to the Finals twice with two different teams and both times "he has checked out at the most crucial times in the games." He also "checked out" at the end of the All Star game just past and a night ago, he "checked out" again at the end.

Argument: Is Lebron James afraid to not have a perfect game? Is Lebron James afraid to take the last shot when the game is on the line? and especially big big games.

I don't think he can even be considered to be the "best player" until he gets his head straight regarding "the big shot in the big game." I personally don't want to hear anymore about "I let my team down again." Just do it and Lebron "You won't be the first or last player to seek psychological help on subjects like this. Just do it.

Just sayin'

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I think Lebron James will end up one of the ten best players in the history of the NBA. I think he might deserve that description already. (Although bear in mind that any "best players" list is problematic, given the differences between eras and the differences between positions.)

He did not "check out" at the end of the most recent Heat game. In fact, he outscored the Jazz 17-16 up until the last two minutes. He single-handedly saved the Heat from a pretty terrible loss to the Jazz with some amazing play. Then, Dwyane Wade missed two crucial free throws and committed two boneheaded fouls. As a result of Wade's miscues, the Heat were down 1 with four seconds to go. When Lebron caught the ball, he was double-teamed. It was not clear how good of a chance he would have had driving to the basket -- a triple-team seemed possible. Meanwhile, another Heat player, who has been pretty good now and then, was wide open. So, James made the smart basketball decision and passed the ball. The other Heat player missed the shot. Game over.

It may have been that James could also have created a good play if he had driven to the hoop as soon as he caught the ball. But passing to an open, capable shooter is under no circumstances a bad decision. Driving as soon as he caught the ball could have just as easily drawn a triple-team, forcing James to take a bad, desperate shot. Both options had advantages and disadvantages and neither was overwhelmingly a better one.

Since neither option was overwhelmingly better, it is frankly foolish to claim that James "checked out" in that situation without acknowledging how well he played in the previous 11:56, or without acknowledging how much Wade was to blame for the situation. You are paying too much attention to the media narrative -- James as "choker" -- and no attention to the facts.

From what I understand, Lebron's 4th-quarter stats are not any different from his overall stats -- something like a 45% vs. 47% FG%, etc. It is silly to criticize him for not having won a championship yet -- what's remarkable is that he made it to the Finals at all with the Cavs, given how mediocre his supporting casts were. It is true that the Heat did not win last year, but blaming this on Lebron's psychological deficits gives much, much too little credit to the Mavericks, in particular their defense. It is both silly and foolish to criticize Lebron for the All-Star Game. It's the All-Star Game. Nobody tries for 45 minutes and then everybody tries hard for 3 minutes. 3 minutes of competitive exhibition basketball played by a bunch of stars who never play with each other means exactly nothing.

Finally, it is ironic that Lebron is getting all this heat for making a good, smart pass in the closing seconds. A persistent meme about basketball today is that players are too "selfish", making the game unwatchable. So one of the biggest stars chooses to play good team basketball instead of Kobe-style hero ball, and hack pundits ride him for "not having what it takes to win" or whatever BS phrases fat sportswriters spout about sports they don't play.

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As much as you want to defend him, the guy seems to have games where his judgment is at question. There is no getting around that. He has character flaws that in my view will prevent him from winning a title.

The author of "The Whore of Akron: One Man's Search for the Soul of LeBron James", Scott Raab, was on WFAN yesterday discussing his book and he thinks there are some personality conflicts between him and Wade and that he's playing scared at times.

To not acknowledge there are some problems there is pollyannish.

Edited by Brad

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I think the Heat will win the title this year fairly easily, with the Bulls being the lone team which can possibly beat them. I agree LeBron is already one of the greatest NBA players of all time. My guess is LeBron will step up at some crucial moment, and all this chatter of him being a choker will evaporate.

"Kobe-style hero ball" has hurt the Lakers so much that he's helped win five NBA titles. For all the crap the "hack pundits" love to dish his way, Kobe is without question 2nd only to Michael Jordan all time at the shooting guard position. He's also the toughest player in the NBA, playing through pain and scoring at will on everybody. I literally laughed out loud when ESPN ranked him the "7th best player in the NBA." People really let their hate for Kobe color his every stat and every accomplishment, and where other all-time greats still active in the NBA receive constant praise Kobe gets constant criticism for not being perfect.

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Well it seems there is a little fire amongst us. Good, I would hate to think that nobody cares about the NBA anymore.

I would only add at this point that it was out of James' mouth himself that proclaimed "we will win not one, not two, not three, not four, not five etc. etc." and he has yet to win the first one. Hopefully he will because he is a tremendous talent but until he does, he most certainly does not belong among the top ten in "NBA history". Nine of those spots are already taken by Kobe, Shaq, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Bob Pettit and George Mikan, just to name a few. Oh yeah, how could I forget Wilt Chamberlain. That is ten already and the great Oscar Robertson, even rainbow head has 5 rings (2 with the Pistons and 3 with the Bulls), well let me stop here. These are people who have left a mark on the game.

Kobe's five rings speaks a lot and a zero says very little.

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Knicks came up short today. Lin a non factor mostly. In the second half they were maddening and the second team kept them in the game. Notwithstanding they had the lead with 18 secs to go to but couldn't stop Pierce who torched them. They have difficulty getting over 500. Not the way to start off across trip that includes Mavs and Spurs.

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As much as you want to defend him, the guy seems to have games where his judgment is at question. There is no getting around that. He has character flaws that in my view will prevent him from winning a title.

The author of "The Whore of Akron: One Man's Search for the Soul of LeBron James", Scott Raab, was on WFAN yesterday discussing his book and he thinks there are some personality conflicts between him and Wade and that he's playing scared at times.

To not acknowledge there are some problems there is pollyannish.

Scott Raab likes to make a lot of detailed claims about Lebron's psychology. It's interesting, because Scott Raab doesn't know Lebron James personally, or know anybody who knows him very well personally. He sure does hate Lebron though. Perhaps Scott Raab has some gift of perception, by which he can see into people's minds by watching them play basketball. I imagine this is gift is similar to the gift that many sports reporters have, which enables them to determine whether or not a player "cares enough" or "has what it takes to win" by consulting some combination of the player's facial expressions, the folklore of received sports wisdom, and their own subjective reactions to that player. Whatever it is, I don't understand why his conjectures about Lebron and Wade are worth considering.

I do think that Kobe's selfishness hurts his team; I don't hate him, or think that it means he isn't one of the greatest players to watch ever, when he's delivering. Part of my point in bringing up his selfish play was just to illustrate that Lebron is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. If he plays hero ball like Kobe and fails (like Kobe does, often) then he'll be a selfish, glory-mugging ballhog, that awful hip-hop approach to the game that Jeremy Lin is supposed to save us from; if he plays strategic team ball and passes, he's a coward.

"Kobe hero ball" is amazing when it works, but it's pretty ugly when it doesn't. By hero ball I was referring specifically to his approach to close 4th quarter situations as opposed to Lebron's decision in that final play. As many times as I've seen Kobe save a game I've watched him throw one away -- he doggedly chucks up shots against double and triple teams while ignoring the rest of the team, which includes Bynum and Gasol, two excellent players in their own right and essential parts of Kobe's last two titles. As well as being a bad strategic choice, right then and there, this kind of play can be bad for the team. Bynum went so far as to tell the media this all-star weekend that the Lakers need to change the way they play in close 4th quarter situations. Choosing to involve the team and pass to the open man is not bad basketball, while very often trying to be the hero to fit a media image about sports heros in "the clutch" is bad basketball.

There is the added factor of Kobe's ridiculously high usage rate this year, which goes beyond just his approach to 4th quarter situations. I wonder how much of that has to do with the new offensive system -- the triangle might be necessary to getting the rest of the offense consistently involved, with dominant offensive players like Jordan and Bryant -- and how much of it has to do with Bryant's obvious lack of trust in the Lakers' weak roster. Whatever the case, it hasn't helped the team dynamic with Bynum and Gasol, especially given all the trade nonsense re: Gasol. Kobe is visibly older than he was two years ago. His defense in particular has fallen off a cliff. Ranking him 7th in the league now seems reasonable -- he can still have great games on offense, but he can't deliver as consistently or as well-roundedly as younger stars. I don't know if you should get extra points in the ranking for being good even though you're old and hurt.

You are right that winning no championships says very little. Winning a championship requires a lucky combination of good teammates, good play-off matchups, a good seven games, good health, good refs, and so forth. Kobe certainly hasn't won his rings single-handedly -- I think Shaquille O'Neal contributed now and then in the old days, and I think the 09/10 team had a scary, punishing amount of tall athletic players to go along with Kobe's goodness. Focusing just on how many rings players have without paying any attention to what teammates they have had suggests, again, that you're interested more in a narrative about Lebron than facts about what he contributes on the court.

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"Kobe hero ball" is amazing when it works, but it's pretty ugly when it doesn't. By hero ball I was referring specifically to his approach to close 4th quarter situations as opposed to Lebron's decision in that final play. As many times as I've seen Kobe save a game I've watched him throw one away -- he doggedly chucks up shots against double and triple teams while ignoring the rest of the team, which includes Bynum and Gasol, two excellent players in their own right and essential parts of Kobe's last two titles.

Yep. While Kobe had an excellent day today (especially in the first quarter), in the previous Heat/Lakers game he looked horrible. Unlike today with Chris Bosh out, the Lakers didn't have such a size advantage inside in January, and Kobe was trying to make up for Gasol/Bynum's difficulties himself. Shane Battier harassed him the entire game and forced him to take unwise shots.

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Lebron is the best player in the NBA today.

i'm not sure if he is the best player, but he is the most awesome athlete to ever play the game, with the possible exception of the young big dipper.

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Lebron is the best player in the NBA today.

i'm not sure if he is the best player, but he is the most awesome athlete to ever play the game, with the possible exception of the young big dipper.

that too!

:tophat:

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Bruce is right on point. He may be the best player in the game but until he wins a title he's not in the conversation. If he doesn't do it this year, it will never happen. Until the "decision" he was liked. Since then he's held in contempt and teams play (or try to) harder against the Heat. His return to the Cavs comment only makes you shake your head. Great talent but light's on and nobody's home.

Edited by Brad

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Bruce is right on point. He may be the best player in the game but until he wins a title he's not in the conversation. If he doesn't do it this year, it will never happen. Until the "decision" he was liked. Since then he's held in contempt and teams play (or try to) harder against the Heat. His return to the Cavs comment only makes you shake your head. Great talent but light's on and nobody's home.

now, if lebron had koby's drive and competitiveness...................that's downright scary.

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The weird thing is LeBron has shown the killer instinct in some big games, but has pulled a disappearing act in others. When he wins his first title (which I really think will be this year), it will just be a matter of him playing his game until the final buzzer.

The Heat got to the Finals last year with a really spotty roster, in their first year playing together. They've added a premier defender in Shane Battier. That plus the extra time playing together ought to do it. Of course, I'll be rooting for whoever plays against the Heat, but I'm prepared to be disappointed. Since the Lakers really haven't got the depth of personnel to win it, I'll be pulling for the Bulls to beat the Heat and whoever comes out of the West (likely OKC).

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What did Lebron say about a return to Cleveland???

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I can't name anyone on a team other than the lakers and spurs with a player with 2 or more nba rings

Lebron thinks everybody in ohio would be cool if he signed with the cavs in a few years

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What did Lebron say about a return to Cleveland???

Something like maybe he would think about returning to the Cavs in a couple of years. Must have given Heat management and fans pause.

In another vein, all this attention has not really done Jeremy Lin any good:

Lin's Heroics Have Turned Him Into a Marked Man

Edited by Brad

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All Knicks fan enthusiasm aside, I don't believe that Lin is destined to have a remarkable career over the long haul.

And did anyone see Baron Davis' prediction that the Knicks would win the championship THIS year???

First we get that idiot Dolan predicting that the Rangers would win the Stanley Cup this year, and now THIS. They must have attended Rex Ryan's annual BOAST.

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What did Lebron say about a return to Cleveland???

Something like maybe he would think about returning to the Cavs in a couple of years. Must have given Heat management and fans pause.

...

Yep Lebron definitely has that well known disease called; "foot in mouth disease."

How can he possibly be thinking that or even why?? What an insult to both teams that would be.

The knocking around of Lin is good for him at this point. Very few guys make such a strong impression in a couple of weeks. Now he has the bullseye on his back and that will only make him stronger and better if he doesn't fold. Coach seems to think he will be alright. Who knows, the knocking around plus sooner or later the refs will start giving him the calls if he handles it well then, we'll see.

Good luck Jeremy

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Since Melo returned to the lineup, the team has been dysfunctional and any progress they made has gone up in smoke: losing streak is at 6. Moreover, the coach, Mike D'antoni, and his star player, Carmelo Anthony, detested each other.

Today D'antoni quit. Another case of the lunatics running the asylum.

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Today D'antoni quit. Another case of the lunatics running the asylum.

Are the Phil Jackson rumors at a roiling boil?

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The rumors are already starting. Can't see Jackson coming though.

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Knicks win by 42! Go figure.

Keep in mind they were playing a team that's only masquerading as an NBA franchise.

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